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Environmental/Ethical Dilemma.

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Environmental/Ethical Dilemma Introduction Since the late 1960's, laws reducing pollution and improving quality standards to protect public health have been established. Even though we know more about reducing and controlling hazardous waste today than we did in the past, America still produces 700,000 tons of hazardous waste every day. Much of the waste material comes from manufacturers. Certain hazardous material wastes are more harmful than others. Today, we have laws and regulations to control hazardous waste production and disposal. Environmental management remains the single most expensive area of government's regulation of the business community. Over the next decade, industry will spend several hundred billions of dollars on pollution control. According to the opinion of the research organization, Yankelovich, Skelly and White, the control of toxic and hazardous chemicals "ranks first" on the public's list of where the government's regulation of industry is needed. In our environmental/ethical exercise, we are presented with the same basic issue as mentioned above. The Vice President (VP) of Production is asking the company's environmental consultant for advice on how to dump various toxic production wastes into a holding pond on the company's property. The Assistant to the VP overhears their conversation and is faced with an ethical dilemma on how to handle this information. ...read more.


In assessing such a penalty, the Administrator will take into account the seriousness of the violation and any good faith measures the company has taken to comply with applicable requirements. If the company's dumped toxic chemicals made their way into a waterway, such as into an underground water table, we would be in violation of additional federal laws. One of these laws is the Clean Water Act, passed by Congress in 1972 for the purpose of regulating and eliminating water pollution (http://www.epa.gov). A second law is the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1974. It was designed to protect our drinking water from contamination of toxic chemicals and pollutants. A third law is the Ground Water Protection Act designed to protect our ground water from pollutants (http://www.emsei.psu.edu). All three of these federal laws have strong enforcement provisions, which must be followed by companies that dispose of wastes. Possible Courses of Action When deciding on a course of action, it is important to analyze all of the factors mentioned above and endeavor to minimize the financial and ethical impacts of the decision on all directly and indirectly effected parties. Most environmental laws such as the Clean Air and Water Acts contain citizen enforcement provisions, which grant private citizens and groups the standing to sue to challenge failures to comply with environmental laws (Reed, et.al.). ...read more.


Contact Internal Resources. Many companies have internal processes to expose unethical behaviors and actions. Employees can contact their internal resources, i.e., ethics hotlines, or legal departments, to discuss their concerns. Summary When companies understand the financial impacts that violations have towards the company's bottom line, they will be more cautious in managing their toxic wastes. Summarized below are examples of regulatory fines and penalties under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ( RCRA). Congress amended the Solid Waster Disposal Act in 1976 in order to ensure proper handling and disposal of hazardous and toxic wastes. ACT SANCTION INTENT MAXIMUM FINES MAXIMUM IMPRISONMENT RCRA (hazardous Wastes) Civil Criminal None Knowingly $27,500/day $25,00/day (double for 2nd offense) 1 year (double for 2nd offense) RCRA (hazardous Wastes) Criminal Knowingly imminent endangerment to human life $250,000 - $100,000,00 (Organizations) 2 years RCRA (hazardous Wastes) Criminal Knowingly indifferent to human life $250,000 - $100,000,00 (Organizations) 5 years There are no easy answers when deciding how to prevent a company from performing an unethical and illegal act. All scenarios potentially have negative repercussions if compliance to the environmental protection laws is not adhered to. It is important to analyze all possible courses of action and decide on the path that has the most positive results for the environment, while attempting to minimize any negative impact to the company. . ...read more.

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