Question: Alberta Mining Company extracts and processes a variety of ores

Alberta Mining Company extracts and processes a variety of ores and minerals. One of its operations is a coal-cleaning plant that produces toxic wastes. For many years, the wastes have been properly disposed of through Canadian Disposal, an experienced company. However, disposal of the toxic wastes is becoming an economic hardship because increasing government regulations caused the cost of such disposal to quadruple in the last 6 years.
Rachel O’Casey, director of financial reporting for Alberta Mining, was preparing the company’s financial statements for the current year. In researching the material needed for preparing a footnote on environmental contingencies, Rachel found the following note scribbled in pencil at the bottom of a memo to the general manager of the coal-cleaning plant. The body of the memo gave details on the increases in the cost of toxic waste disposals:
Ralph—We’ve got to keep these costs down or we won’t meet budget. Can we mix more of these wastes with the shipments of refuse to the Oak Hill landfill? Nobody seems to notice the coal-cleaning fluids when we mix it in well.
Rachel was bothered by the note. She considered ignoring it, pretending that she had not seen it. But after a couple of hours, her conscience would not let her do it. Therefore, she pondered the following three alternative courses of action:
● Seek the advice of her boss, the vice president of finance for Alberta.
● Anonymously release the information to the local newspaper.
● Give the information to an outside member of Alberta’s board of directors, whom she knew because he lived in her neighborhood.
1. Discuss why Rachel has an ethical responsibility to take some action about her suspicion of the illegal dumping of toxic wastes.
2. For each of the three alternative courses of action, explain whether the action is appropriate.
3. Assume that Rachel sought the advice of the vice president of finance and discovered that he both knew about and approved of the dumping of toxic wastes. What steps should she take to resolve the conflict in this situation?

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  • CreatedNovember 19, 2014
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