Ethical Case Analysis JOHNSO62 on the 27 Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3376 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues

Ethical Case Analysis


On the 27 July 2003, the oil tanker Tasman Spirit carrying approximately 67, 535 tons of crude Iranian Light oil ran aground in the channel port of Karachai (Janjua, Kasi & Nawaz, 2006) . In the weeks following the initial grounding of the vessel rough sea conditions as well as weather and structural damage resulted in the large scale release of crude oil into the beach area. It was determined that well over 35,000 tons of cargo was spilled into the sea (Janjua, Kasi & Nawaz, 2006).

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Crude oil is composed of many chemical compounds including several which can become airborne when exposed to the correct conditions. These compounds are extremely volatile and pose significant health risks not only to local wildlife, but also to the local population. In the cargo being held in the Tasman Spirit, was particularly high in sulfur content, light and heavy naphtha as well as gasoline. The aromatic hydrocarbons contained in the oil evaporated following the spill and were dispersed into the highly populated towns and cities surrounding the beach (Janjua, Kasi & Nawaz, 2006. This release of aromatic hydrocarbons as well as other known toxins into the population may have long-term negative effects on the health of those individuals living in affected areas. Observed health effects include a higher rate of upper respiratory infection, skin irritation, and even psychological ailments though it is as yet undetermined whether those psychological effects were related more to stress from loss of livelihood or the chemicals themselves (Ha, et al. . 2008).

Research Paper on Ethical Case Analysis JOHNSO62 on the 27 Assignment

The natural resources of the area affected by the spill encompassed a minim of 40 square kilometers (Ha, et al. . 2008). This does not include the tidal waters, estuaries, rivers, and mudflats which were affected as a result of the high dispersal rate of crude oil through water. Air pollution was estimated to represent approximately 11,000 tons of volatile organic compounds which had been dispersed into the air for as long as 30 days following the initial spill (Janjua, Kasi & Nawaz, 2006). The effects on local wildlife include the death of substantial quantities of indigenous wildlife including fish, turtles, and birds. Further, it was found that the sediment and phytoplankton of the area were infected by the crude oil and as such the productivity of the phytoplankton was severely reduced for several months after the fact. The infection of the sediment with hazardous chemicals also resulted in the continuing introduction of said chemicals into the marine environment.

The analysis of the Tasman Spirit oil spill is a complex issue regarding not only the accountability but also the still ongoing environmental restoration necessary following such an event. The eight step linear model as presented by Trevino and Nelson will necessarily be flawed; however it represents a reasonable approach to addressing a number of issues from an impartial position as well as leaving room for personal interpretation. The eight step linear model asks the researcher to investigate the facts as well as the ethical issues without the bias of personal opinion and leaning. Researchers are also encouraged to investigate the individual parties involved as well as the differing responsibilities and obligations of said parties based in their rights and experiences in the given scenario. One interesting aspect of this method which distinguishes it from other methods of ethical analysis is the comingling of both hard fact and personal ethics. While initially the researcher is encouraged to investigate the facts in an unbiased fashion, in the final steps they are encouraged to investigate their personal feelings on the matter as well as weigh those feelings against the information that have uncovered as a result of their investigation. Finally, researchers are encouraged to pose interesting possible solutions to the dilemma. This invitation of an outside perspective is important because it facilitates practical appraisal of the situation on the part of the researcher and may actually result in the successful resolution of the ethical dilemma.

Step One

Gathering the Facts: An Explanation

This first part of the eight step process is significant in that it requires the researcher to thoroughly investigate the facts of the case. When assessing a situation in terms of ethical responsibility and obligation it is easy to respond to the first or the most inflammatory pieces of information regarding an event or a series of events. This however results in an uninformed and largely reactionary assessment in which critical factors are not considered. Below will be the most complete representation of the facts available at this time.

A minimum of 40 square kilometers of marine habitat were impacted not including tributaries, rivers, mud flats, and estuaries which were contaminated

600 kg of dead fish washed up on the beaches causing multiple health and safety concerns

Phytoplankton were contaminated virtually eliminating them from the habitat up to six months following the spill -- the loss of phytoplankton ultimately resulted in the depression of the marine habitat

The sediment to a depth of 80 mm was contaminated by the oil as well resulting in the continued contamination and leeching of chemicals into the marine habitat even one full year later

In the weeks following the spill upwards of 1,000 contaminated fish were found at local restaurant

Air contamination at toxic levels were experienced as far as one kilometer inland from the beach

Dispersants and booming were the primary methods of remediation implemented in response to the spill

Manual skimming as well as occasional low tide ploughing of the beach

Acute health effects were experienced by the population including but not limited to; upper respiratory tract infection, skin and eye irritation, a number of unspecified psychological problems.

Facts found in (Janjua, Kasi & Nawaz, 2006)

Step Two

Definition of Ethical Issues

The definition of ethical issues encourages thought on the possible ramifications of the outlined situation above. Rather than immediately considering facts within the context of a solution seeking or responsibility allocating framework, this step focuses on the simple understanding of what factors must be considered from both the perspective of the parties ultimately responsible for the tanker and subsequently the spill but also those individuals affected by the results of the spill. The consequentialist perspective is the one which will assess the nature of any potential harm to the community and society. The deontological perspective will take into account the rights, responsibilities, and effects of the event on both sides. That is to say where the consequentialist perspective addresses the global impact of the event, the deontological perspective addresses the specific effect of the event on the individuals claiming an actual stake in it.

Consequentialist Perspective

The results of the Tasman Spirit oil spill can still be felt in the marine ecosystem and in the communities which depend on that ecosystem for livelihood. Further, the physical health effects of exposure to and likely consumption of contaminated resources are still being addressed. Though there is information regarding the effects of oil spills which have occurred historically, that by no means indicates that the experience of those individuals in this affected area will be similar. The specific chemical makeup of the oil which was spilled in the Tasman spill is unique to the spill.

In this instance, clean up efforts as well as the rehabilitation of marine ecology are already underway. The effects of exposure on the population are also being studied. However, there has been a significant impact on the economy of the affected area as well as the health. Food supplies as well as inland vegetation were all affected significantly by the spill. It is ultimately up for determination the degree to which the crew of the tanker is responsible for resolving what is considered the most serious environmental event in the history of Pakistan. Seven years on, the legalities associated with the disaster are still in arbitration in multiple international courts. While the criminal blame for the event has been allocated to the ships crew members as well as the insuring body (American Club), counter suits against Pakistan National Shipping Corporation for violation of safety protocols the crew asserting that the approach to the port was too shallow resulting in the grounding and subsequent structural collapse of the tanker.

Deontological Perspective

Though there is an overwhelming degree of legal action already in arbitration regarding the matter it must be addressed that the relative value of such machinations in the face of what effectively constitutes a natural disaster may not be the most effective use of time or resources. Thousands of hours and millions of dollars are being spent defining the blame and fiscal responsibility for this disaster when those hours and dollars could perhaps more effectively be applied to the correction of the situation. While it is definitely important that victims of the disaster who have suffered financial and/or health effects of the event must be compensated and cared for, in the immediacy it is more important to recover the ecosystem and the health of the residents.

Ultimately while neither the Tasman… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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