Darwin Chemical Company has promoted Jared to plant manager for its Chinese subsidiary recently. Jared moved to China and felt lucky for the opportunity. He was given the ability to run the office as he saw fit. Jared was settling in fine until he noticed that the company had not been logging their disposal procedures for the chemical waste. Jared then started asking questions regarding the process of chemical waste disposal and found out that most of the time the workers just dumped it in the nearby river. Jared then found out that the previous plant manager knew about this and was fine with it. Jared on the other hand, was not. He put a stop to this process and had the plant start complying with the recommended procedure of chemical waste disposal. Jared then raised the issue with his superior, Jonathan. Jonathan agreed with much of what Jared had implemented. Jonathan disagreed with Jared’s idea of alerting the Chinese authorities about the previous chemical dumping in the river, as this would be quite costly. Jonathan stated that there are other companies that likely use this disposal process and that people likely would not get sick with the amount they consume. Jared found out that the local fishing in that river has drastically decreased, and the fish being caught had physical deformities.
Jared faces multiple ethical dilemmas in this situation. If Darwin Chemical Company does not come forward to the Chinese authorities about the previous chemical dumping in the river, the local people could end up getting sick from the continuous consumption. Also, the fishing population has decreased, this leaves many people who are counting on the fish for food, hungry. The people who are able to catch the fish that are left will likely end up being exposed to a higher amount of the chemical due to the fish living in the chemically contaminated waters. To go even further, the animals that catch and eat the fish could end up being contaminated. Or even animals, such as birds, that land there to get a drink from the river, then fly away. Cleaning up the river would be very expensive for Darwin Chemical Company, but if they want to be an ethical company, it seems that it is a must do action. Jared could possibly face backlash from Jonathan if he did choose to come forward to the Chinese authority. He could be jeopardizing his job. Darwin Chemical Company should also seek some sort of legal action against the previous plant manager regarding his part in the years of dumping chemicals into the river.
Jonathan rationalizes his reasons for not reporting the pollution to keep Jared quiet. Jonathan states that since they are a foreign company, they would be getting much larger fines than if they were a local company. Jonathan tells Jared that the Chinese are much more lenient when it comes to chemical disposal. He tells Jared that they would not much care about the fact that Darwin Chemical Company has been dumping in the river for years. So, in Jonathan’s opinion there is no point in opening that can of worms. Jonathan also makes a note to say that Darwin Chemical is not the only chemical plant near that river. He states that it is likely the dumping place for many of the plants, so in his opinion, who’s to say that it is their chemical waste that is impacting the area. Also, if they were to clean it up, if there are other plants dumping waste in the river, it would not stay clean for long.
Different stakeholders would be impacted in different ways from the water pollution. Households that get their drinking water from the river could be impacted by getting various diseases or cancers from continuous consumption of contaminated water. The food source of fish and wildlife along the river would be lessened from this as well, causing the households to get their food elsewhere. The company is another stakeholder in this situation. If they were to clean up the chemical waste that had been dumped in the river, they would have to pay a great deal of money to do so. They would have the backlash of negative press since they had been dumping in the river. They would need to change processes at the plant to ensure that employees are following through with the policy in place for chemical waste disposal. The company’s financials would be negatively impacted through this, but their ethical standpoint would take a boost.
This situation is much like one that had a movie made from the results. Erin Brockovich was a law clerk that took action against Pacific Gas & Electric. They had poisoned the towns water for over 30 years. Erin was able to get settlements for the residents of the town since many had suffered serious health issues.