I'm trying to understand the exception in the NEC, subsection 250.32(B)(1), which gives permission to use the grounded conductor as the ground fault current path. Apparently, in earlier code cycles this was allowed, and I run across it in the field often where an outbuilding, like a detached garage or shed, has triplex (2 hots, 1 neutral) running to it as a feeder from the main panel in the house. It is also common on farms to have a central pole with a main panel and three-wire feeders branching off to feed each building. Normally, a single phase feeder like this should use four wires (2 hots, 1 neutral, and 1 equipment grounding conductor(EGC)) with the EGC not bonded back to the neutral ever again after the one time at the main disconnect. But, there does not seem to be an issue with using the three-wire setup if the grounded (neutral) conductor is allowed to double as the one designated fault current path back to the source. At each sub-panel, the grounded conductor, then, is bonded to the equipment grounding bar with a jumper and also to the sub-fed building's grounding electrode. All of that makes sense to me.
My problem is with the language used in condition 2, allowing the exception. It is confusing and does not seem to make sense when taken literally. It reads:
"(2) There are no continuous metallic paths bonded to the grounding system in each building or structure involved."
If it said "between the two buildings" it would make sense to me. But it doesn't. It says "in each building. I can't believe that the earlier editions of the Code required no continuous metallic paths in each building, and it doesn't make sense logically.
Up to this point, everything I've read from different community forums interprets the language as if it said "between," and their reasoning makes sense for the most part. Of course, there are different opinions out there that differ slightly. Some say the reason is that parallel ground fault current paths would be dangerous. Others, say that parallel neutral paths is the greater danger. It just bothers me that in the year 2023 we have something so dumb as this in the NEC, unless I'm missing something like a technical definition for continuous metallic path meaning between each building or something else that is obvious to everyone but me.
Am I wrong in saying that the language is wrong or too vague to be useful, or can someone please set me straight on this? I'm in a situation where I need to be able to explain this code to other people and all I can say right now is that it appears the language in the code should be worded differently.