Case for Discussion:
Calcutta Industries (CI) operates an incinerator in western Texas. It is the second-largest employer in the area. When built, the incinerator was several miles from the nearest town. However, urban sprawl has pushed the boundaries of two towns to within three miles of the plant. A local elemen-tary school, several daycare centers and a nursing home are within five miles. On certain days, when the wind blows in their direction, kids and seniors are impacted by incinerator waste. CI has worked diligently over the past two decades to greatly reduce the amount of mercury and other heavy metal emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared that these metals can cause health risks such as birth defects, asthma and Alzheimer disease.
The Environmental Council of Texas, a non-profit organization, wants to shut the incinerator down. It recently commissioned a study to weigh the benefits and costs of the incinerator. The research indicated the following:
Benefits of keeping the incinerator operating:
$5,325,500 Additional economic impact
$100.000 CI contributions to local charities
Costs of keeping the incinerator operating:
$3,000,000 Three deaths per year (including stillborn children)
$3,500,000 Air and water pollution
$ 500,000 Lost tourism
$ 450,000 Other health problems created
$ 1,000,000 Property damage
$ 500,000 Reduction of aesthetic value and quality of life
Question 1: How would the following environmental ethics evaluate this case?
What recommendations would each make? Why?
Question 2. What do you think should happen? Why?