Remember when Google was like that cool older brother that gave you sudden access to all of life’s illicit goods?  Suddenly, the internet was your oyster, and you could finally figure out what the Paris Hilton sex tape was all about, or any other sex tape, or find articles about cats drinking cactus beer out of trolls.  Even if it didn’t exist, you could google it, and then you would know for sure that it didn’t exist, because Google gave you zero search results.  Google’s search engine literally improved my quality of life.

On the flip side of that coin, however, Google has been quietly building work campuses on Superfund hazardous waste sites* and making the lives of those people in them literally worse.  Here are some quotes, and my interpretations, from the linked article that I found interesting, from Google spokesperson Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg:

Employees in the two buildings had access to the information on the intranet, but [Katelin] declined to say whether they were warned of any health risk.”  Having access to information is not the same as being told that they are working on a hazardous waste site.  “Hazardous waste site” has a certain ring to it.

[Katelin] said that employees were never in any danger.”  Google employs people directly, and also hires people through contracting agencies – temp workers, who are employees of the agency, and not Google.  Technically, this statement could be true, because this site may only house temp workers and not actual google employees.

Sometimes, meaning can be found in what Katelin did not say.  “Danger” is generic, it is much more vague than, say “Employees were never exposed to hazardous chemicals” or “The measures we took to filter out hazardous chemical from our buildings kept out 98% of these toxins from all areas of all buildings, including stairwells and workspaces.”  She could have said these things, or made some other very strong statement, but she didn’t.

*See: Google Employees Face Health Risks From Superfund Site’s Toxic Vapors.  See also, Superfund site


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