Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Ethical Issues

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill that occurred twenty-five years ago in Prince William Sound, Alaska causing a pollution by11 million gallons oil spill of one thousand coastal miles has raised many ethical questions. For instance, it is reported that the shipping company failed to supervise the shipmaster, an act that was established to have been widespread in the company by the National Transport Safety Board. This implies that the Exxon Valdez crew was so reluctant while performing their duties that lead to the accident.

Besides, the ship’s Senior officer, Captain Joseph Hazelwood was reported to have been drinking heavily during the night’s journey and was never in control of the ship. This raises the work ethics question that requires that one should always be sober during the working hours. In connection to this, the third mate in the crew is also reported to have possibly failed to maneuver the large vessel from the reef possibly due to work fatigue caused by excess workload after reducing the number of workers in the vessel. Labor laws and work ethics require that one should work in a conducive environment with good terms and conditions of work that do not overburden an individual. Therefore, the company is seen to have failed in this, which may be the causative agent of the accident that led to the oil spill.

In addition, according to Professor Nancy Leveson, the ships had not been informed that the coast guard tracking ship that led them out to Bligh Reef initially practiced had been abolished that raises the question of ethics of the ships’ beach management. Also, the oil industry had made a promise to install the state-of-art iceberg monitoring instruments that never happened thus questioning the ethics of the industry. Other than that, the coast guard vessels inspection in Valdez never took place according to the reports that imposed more risk thus questioning the ethics of the authorities concerned.

Question Two

According to the business dictionary, a free market is one where the sellers and the buyers can make deals they would wish to make without any interferences except for the forces of demand and supply. Therefore, based on this definition, the activities of the Exxon Valdez did not have many interferences and, therefore, failed to avoid the eventualities due to the following: First, the tanker is said to have been working for a 12 to 14 hours shifts plus overtime without any regulations hence was always in a rush to make more profits for the company without any maintenance.

Secondly, the Exxon Shipping company constantly failed to maintain properly the Raytheon Collision Avoidance system radar that would have alerted the third mate of the impending Bligh Reef collision danger. Exxon Valdez accident report indicates that the tankers sailed outside the normal sea-lane meant for the ships to avoid small iceberg thought to be in the area. This could have hindered the normal monitoring process that led to the accident. Inadequate clean up equipment and personnel also hindered the whole cleanup process that led to the widespread pollution.

Question Three

One of the free market realities is that fair competition is created among the sellers of a given product. In this case, this reality would have lead to the catastrophe because the company could have been in a hurry to increase the supply of its oil products to the respective markets where there was high competition. In another instance, the free market reality characterized by minimal regulations made the company make many trips as possible without considering operation state of the tanker and other equipment involved that led to the accident.

In a free market, labor is owned privately by the individual company owners, which give them the right to act according to what best fit their interests. Thus, this could have led to reduced number of workers in the tanker that led to the accident due to work overload of the few crewmembers. Another reality of a free market is that everyone acts on his or her behalf. This could have been the route cause as to why the ship opted to follow a route different from the main lane that led to the accident.

Question Four

The regulatory bodies may be inadequate to prevent such an occurrence because in most cases the bodies act as per the law of the land that may be different from one point to another. Thus, some controls may not be within the mandates of one regulatory body hence ignoring them. On the other hand, the consumers tend to be mind more of what they consume rather that how it comes about. Thus, they have minimal focus on the whole transportation and production processes. The regulatory bodies also have minimal mandates or controls when it comes to a free market thus are unable to control some issues of economic stature.

 

Reference

Collin, P. (2004). Dictionary of business. London: A & C Black.

Is the Exxon Valdez oil spill finally cleaned up?. (2008). New Scientist, 200(2687), 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0262-4079(08)63180-2

Ott, R. (2009). The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and Its Impact on Community and Ecology. Epidemiology, 20, S248. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.ede.0000362830.06838.b1

Tomasi, J. (2012). Free market fairness. Princeton: Princeton University Press.