Environmental/Ethical Dilemma Breaches in Ethics.

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Environmental/Ethical Dilemma Breaches in Ethics

        Today’s ever changing business environment presents us with new and complex ethical issues that bring into question our ability to address and, hopefully, resolve them. The health and welfare of the public and the environment is being weighed against the unethical behaviors of corporations who choose to dump toxic wastes illegally. In our environmental/ethical exercise we are presented with the same basic issue as mentioned above. The Vice President (VP) of Production is asking our environmental consultant for advice on how to dump various toxic production wastes into a holding pond on the company’s property. It may be assumed that this action is being contemplated for the sole purpose of saving money for the company. Provided below is a good definition of ethics that we applied in this exercise to determine the number breaches associated with this decision if it is acted upon.

        Ethics traditionally refers to the systematic framework of thought and analysis that deals with questions of right and wrong and the nature of the good and proper life. An ethical act is an action that is consistent within this framework. There are four main breaches in ethics that this dilemma exercise determines from the use of this definition. They are bulleted below for review.

  • It is unethical behavior for the VP to even consider asking for advice on dumping toxic production wastes because they have an obligation to conduct daily business activities with the highest degree of integrity. Even contemplating this action draws into questions their personal integrity and decision-making skills.
  • This decision is also unethical because it could unnecessarily apply suffering, damage, and premature death to living beings. Anyone or anything that comes into contact with this toxic waste is unaware of the potential danger it presents.
  • This decision is a clear breach in ethics to the shareholders of this company. This VP is making a decision on behalf of the shareholders that will affect future company earnings and goodwill. The brand name of the company will also take a hit if future legal action is taken.
  • If the environmental consultant provides advice to this VP regarding this matter it will be a breach in ethics. The environmental consultant is employed by this company to provide advice and guidance to the management team regarding the proper use and disposal of wastes. Not to give advice on how to dump wastes into the holding pond.

Legal Ramifications

What are the legal ramifications, civil and criminal, resulting from dumping various toxic production wastes into a holding pond on company property?

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To answer this question, let us first take a look at what Congress has done to regulate toxic and hazardous waste disposal that pose a threat to our human welfare.  We will then better understand the severe penalties imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating specific federal laws that relate to the control of toxic and hazardous chemicals.  

To address environmental problems resulting from the use and dumping of toxic chemicals, Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (http//www.epa.gov).  Companies that generate toxic waste in their manufacturing processes are required to report to the EPA ...

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