From an email posted to Baen's Bar BuShips dated October 31, 2004:

Compensator failure

    On the compensator issue. No, it isn't possible to kill power to the wedge quickly enough to save the crew's lives in the event of compensator failure. And, no, compensator failures aren't "elastic" enough to permit any sort of controlled shut down or additional inertia dumping to save the crew, either.

    The sump is a little elastic, which is how you can at least try to take a compensator beyond its rated top limit and maybe survive, as Honor did on her middy cruise. The odds of doing so are… poor.

    I think I've said before that compensator failures are all or nothing. If I haven't also said specifically that they're effectively instantaneous events, I should have. The sump's limits can be strained and even theoretically exceeded -- briefly! -- without the compensator necessarily failing, but the instant it decides to shut down, it dies completely and catastrophically, and with absolutely no detectable warning signs. Either it's working perfectly, even if temporarily in excess of its designed maximum load, or the crew is anchovy paste. On or off. A binary solution.