Tuesday, 29 June 2010

From Level 40 Tower 1

Imagine yourself is a plant manager in the future. Your manufacturing plant is producing components for hi-fi stereo system and your plant is the only factory in the town. To produce these components, the plant is using hazardous chemical as the raw material. The plant operation is smooth sailing until an environment officer from the State Bureau pays you a visit.

He said that he received complaints from the town folks that your plant had been releasing untreated waste to the local stream and some of the children had been infected by skin disease due to the contaminated stream. The officer demanded to conduct investigation at your plant and that requires your plant to shut down for a week. Of course, you cannot afford to shut down as this situation will give effect to your production, reducing profit and thus make your boss unhappy. You asked the officer to let you conduct an internal investigation at your plant facilities like waste treatment plant, storage area and factory area to isolate the cause of the toxic waste leakage.

The officer granted you the permission and he will be contacting you again after a week. A week passed and he came and told you that the contamination still occur. The number of children infected by the skin disease is also increases. You presented him with the lab report of the sample taken from waste treatment plant and from the stream. You denied the allegation because the sample of two places is completely different in terms of chemical content and your facilities are operating at good condition without any leakage detected.

Then the environmentalists came in pressuring you to cease the plant operation or they will publish your plant 'misconduct' to the newspaper. You had explained to them that the contamination of the stream is clearly not your fault by presenting them the lab report result of the samples taken in those two places. You also warned them that you will take legal action if the newspaper continues to write unscrupulous report about the incident and tarnishing the image of your company with false accusation.

*Looking at the situation, clearly that the plant manager is in dilemma between profit and social responsibility. This is just a sneak peek of one out of many challenges that are faced by today's engineers. So, the future engineer might ponder on this and learn to be ethical whilst not compromising their main task as an engineer.

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