A Question of Ethics
Name: Due: September 20, 2018
Engineer A is employed as the City Engineer/Director of Public Works for a medium-sized city and is the only licensed professional engineer in a position of responsibility in the city government. The city has several large food processing plants that discharge very large amounts of vegetable wastes into the city’s sanitary system during the canning season. Part of the canning season coincides with the rainy season. Engineer A has the responsibility for the disposal plant and beds and is directly responsible to City Administrator C. Technician B answers to Engineer A.
During the course of her employment, Engineer A notifies Administrator C of the inadequate capacity of the plant and beds to handle the potential overflow during the rainy season and offers possible solutions. Engineer A has also discussed the problem privately with certain members of the city council without the permission of City Administrator C. City Administrator C has told Engineer A that “we will face the problem when it comes.” City Administrator C orders Engineer A to discuss the problems only with him and warns her that her job is in danger if she disobeys.
Engineer A again privately brings the problem up to other city officials. City Administrator C removes Engineer A from responsibility of the entire sanitary system and the chain of command by a letter instructing Technician B that he is to take responsible charge of the sanitary system and report directly to City Administrator C. Technician B asks for a clarification and is again instructed via memo by City Administrator C that he, Technician B, is completely responsible and is to report any interference by a third party to City Administrator C. Engineer A receives a copy of the memo. In addition, Engineer A is placed on probation and ordered not to discuss this matter further and that if she does she will be terminated.
Engineer A continues in her capacity as City Engineer/Director of Public Works, assumes no responsibility for the disposal plant and beds, but continues to advise Technician B without the knowledge of City Administrator C. That winter during the canning season, particularly heavy storms occur in the city. It becomes obvious to those involved that if waste water from the ponds containing the domestic waste is not released to the local river, the ponds will overflow the levees and dump all waste into the river. Under state law, this condition is required to be reported to the state water pollution control authority, the agency responsible for monitoring and overseeing water quality in state streams and rivers.
1. Did Engineer A fulfill her ethical obligation by informing City Administrator C and certain members of the city council of her concerns? If you were Engineer A, how would you respond to this situation? Explain your answer using the Code of Ethics from NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers which is available either at the pdf document on Beachboard or their website at https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics. Don’t forget to quote from the relevant Code of Ethics.
Note: Write a one-page, TYPED, double-spaced answer to the above question and then upload the word file on dropbox at Beachboard.