Gilbane Gold case study tells a story about a company called Z CORP which produces computer parts, which results in the arsenic and lead downstream discharge in the citys sewer system. The waste in the sewer system is taken and dried. That dried sludge is used and sold to the farmers as fertilizers. The city has good tax rates which attracts companies such as Z CORP. According to the standards of the current analysis method, as set out by law, the concentration of arsenic and lead downstream meets allowable levels.
However, some engineers at Z CORP, know of latest and new analysis that are sensitive enough to show that arsenic and lead are being discharged at higher concentration that what is currently allowed by law. The company ‘s management refuse to switch to new sensitive analysis method because it detects the amount of toxic metals released into sewer system, as such they ‘d rather continue with the old test which is not sensitive enough to pick the actual level of the toxic metals released downstream.
The moral issue arises within Z CORP concerning whether to advice the city of the new analysis method . Acceptance of the new method analysis would require addition investment in clean up equipment. The other issues that arise are whistleblowing, honesty and trust.
Years ago, Lloyd Bremen was the State Commissioner of Environmental Protection at the time city, established the limits of the toxic metals released downstream so as to prevent the toxic build up in the fertilizer that will end up in the soil, which will end up in the food that the community consumes.
But now retired, Lloyd uses the fertilizer at his father ‘s farmer. He should be a mediative force in this dispute as he both helped write the regulations and now, as a farmer, is a purchaser of the fertilizers.
Lloyd Bremen might be helpful in explaining the long term impacts that the fertilizer will have on both the soil and the community to the city council.
David Jackson is an engineer in charge of the waste treatment for Z CORP. He has noticed that the concentration of the toxic metals discharged tank show that they are releasing toxic metals at higher levels than the city allows. He reports to his non-engineer managers, who are only interested in saving money and making profit. He ‘s brought the matter of lead and arsenic released in huge amounts than what the downstream can handle, to the attention of management but no one has taken his concerns seriously and they always brush him off. David has a responsibility to the general population, not to cause harm and to put their needs first.
Registered persons must at all times have due regard and priority to the public health, safety and interest ‘(Rules of conduct for Registered Persons: Act no.46 of 2000, pg. 92). The toxic metals discharged downstream are poisonous and will build up in the soils and bodies of the consumers over a period of times, and that poses health risks for the general population.
David is obliged to Z CORP as a employee, to defend it as far as the moral considerations will allow. He is obliged to defend the integrity and reputation of the company and to ensure that the plant runs economically and is, at the end of the profitable.
Z CORP has partnered with a Japanese computer company, Toko computers, in a joint venture to produce control modules for computers. It is estimated that in the next five years, production could amount to five hundred percent. However, increased production means that more release of toxic metals in the sewer system.
Tom Richards who was an independent water treatment engineer and consultant to the company for many years, designed and monitored the company ‘s water treatment systems (Martin, 1988). Tom was fired for informing Z CORP management that the water treatment plant needs to be upgraded and that the city needs to know of the new sensitive test method that showed that the toxic metals released downstream are over the limit that the city has specified.
Tom has advised David to go public with the information but he is scared of losing his job and he is afraid that no one will want to hire the whistle blower and if it goes to court and he sides with the company he will be on record on certifying data that he suspects was incorrect and he will lose his license as an engineer (Martin, 1988).
Maria Renato- a local news channel reporter- got hold of the report that revealed that Z CORP’s production capacity will go up with the new venture they are undertaking with Toko computers, and she is also suspicious that Z CORP’s lead and arsenic release will be too much for the city (Martin,1988).
She tries to get David to give her the story, pressuring him to tell her what he knows. At first, David does not want to meet with her. But after thinking it over and consulting friends in the environmental business, David meets the reporter. The story is broadcast on local news channel (Martin, 1988).
Phil Porter and Diane Collins are David ‘s boss and are non-engineers, so they do not understand anything about the morals and commitments that engineers have towards preventing harm and protecting the public welfare. It is difficult for David to get through to his bosses about the issue at hand, since every time he brings the issue up, they always shut him down as they are chasing profits and do not want to spend money unnecessarily.
Diane Collins actually thinks Z CORP has done the city a favour by operating there because the company is providing jobs and substantial tax base. Because the annual revenue generated saves the average family about $300 per year in taxes (Martin, 1988). She has no regard for and is not bothered of the consequences that the arsenic and lead contained in the fertilizers may have on the health of the people. Diane is all about saving money and even when she ‘s told about the dangers, as long as they are not questioned or bothered, then there is nothing to fix.
Channel 13 news channel reporter was fair in letting the community know of what was happening at Z CORP including the new venture they were about to undertake with Toko computers and what will be released downstream once production commences. The public deserved to know about the potential dangers to their lives since Z CORP management would not be honest with them.
The project should have been stopped or the waste water treatment should have been upgraded as soon as they received the data which showed that the limits were to a small degree above the limit as required by the law.
David shouldn’t have blown the whistle to the news channel but instead he should have exhausted all management chain channels in the company, he did talk to some employers and that did not work, then he should have gone to speak to city councils to try to get tax relief from city so they can finance a change in their practices, then if all else failed then as his last resort, he should have talked to the local news channel.