Ethics Essay Essay, Research Paper
This paper will discuss the moral and ethical issues concerning how and why Locally Undesirable Land Uses (LULUs) and Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) are located. A LULU, or TSDF, can be a power plant, a munitions factory, a county landfill, a medical waste incinerator, a hazardous waste storage facility, a military base, an airport or any number of other facilities that people need, but do not want to live next to. The siting of these types of facilities is thought to be driven by either racism or market forces. The reason the siting of these facilities is thought to be racist is based in the fact that a majority of these facilities are located in communities that have a high minority population. The market forces argument is based on the fact that the siting of these facilities is profit driven and bottom line motivated. This paper will utilize the SAGE sequence for ethical decision making in management to examine the issue and determine what is the most ethical solution to this case.
The case this paper will examine is unusual in the fact that the local residents have identified and requested the TSDF be located on their land. The stakeholders who are against this project do not live near the proposed facility, but fear the facility could endanger their community and the environment. This case also concerns Native Americans and their sovereign rights to govern their own land. The following excerpt from web page of the Skull Valley Goshute Tribe provides some history on the tribe:
The Goshutes have inhabited the southwestern part of the United States for thousands of years. They were there before the Mormons, the Mexicans and even the Spaniards. At their peak the Goshutes numbered about 20,000. Today there are less than 500 Goshutes, of which 124 belong to the Skull Valley Band. Historically, the Goshutes had Shoshone relatives and friends to the north, Paiutes and Pavants to the south and the Utes to the east. At one time the Goshute homeland extended from the Wasatch front westward past Wells, Nevada and occupied several hundred square miles. Today, the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation is comprised of approximately 18,000 acres. (1)
Defense cutbacks in Tooele County is the driver behind the Goshutes decision to seek out new business opportunities for the reservation. The Tekoi Rocket Test Facility is currently located on the reservation and Hercules Aerospace tested rockets for defense systems at this facility.. Defense cutbacks in the early nineties created an air of uncertainty concerning the status of the facility, therefore the Goshute tribe aggressively solicited other business opportunities for their reservation. The decision by the Skull Valley Goshutes to host a Monitored Retrieval Storage (MRS) facility on their reservation located in Tooele County, Utah has triggered the case that this paper will examine. An MRS facility is designed to temporarily store, for approximately 40 years, spent nuclear fuel rods. The proposed facility would be designed to store 10,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel rods until a permanent storage facility could be built in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The Yucca Mountain facility is still in the planning stages and no time frame has been developed for this project.
There are currently two commercial hazardous-waste incinerators, one hazardous-waste dump and one low-level radiation dump located in Tooele, County. Until 1969 the military conducted open-air testing of chemical and biological weapons at the Dugway Proving Grounds near the Skull Valley Reservation. The reason the military stop testing these weapons was the death of nearly 6,000 sheep living near the testing grounds. A deal was made between the military and the Goshute Tribe to bury the sheep in a mass grave on their reservation. This incident has been kept quiet by the military that originally blamed the sheep?s deaths on pesticide poisoning, but an autopsy revealed the true cause of death was due to a nerve agent. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has undertaken a project to clean up the contaminated site under the title of the Tooele County Sheep Project. The Department of Defense has recently received permission to begin test burning of chemical weapons in Tooele, County. ?U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell has denied an attempt by the Chemical Weapons Working Group, the Sierra Club and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation to block destruction of chemical weapons at the Army’s incinerator in Tooele County, Utah. The ruling will allow the Army to test-burn chemical weapons stored at the site. If the tests show the plant is operating properly, a final permit will be issued that will allow the facility to go online to burn chemical weapons. The Tooele incinerator is the first of eight planned chemical weapons incinerators in the United States. There are more than 10,000 tons of chemical weapons stored at the Tooele facility ?(Morrow 1). These facts and current dense population of TSDF facilities in Tooele, County add to the irony of this issue. The State of Utah claims that this is a waste equity issue since the state has no nuclear power plants of its own.
The stakeholders in favor of locating the MRS facility on the reservation are the Department of Energy (DOE), a majority of the Skull Valley Goshute tribe and Private Fuel Storage (PFS) a consortium of eleven electric utilities. The eleven members of PFS are: Indiana Michigan Power Co., Boston Edison, Consolidated Edison of New York, Dairyland Power Cooperative, GPU Nuclear Corp., Illinois power, Northern States Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., and Wisconsin Electric Power.
The stakeholders against locating the MRS facility on the reservation is Mike Leavitt (the governor of Utah), the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), the Department of Environmental Quality, the residents of Tooele, County Utah, nine of the eleven western governors and some of the Skull Valley Goshute tribe. The major obstacle facing the siting of this facility is not the storage of the nuclear waste, but the transportation of the waste to the facility. This is the major point of contention for the stakeholders against siting the facility on the Skull Valley Reservation. The views of the stakeholders will be discussed in the order in which they are listed.
The DOE is in favor of constructing MRS facilities in order to avoid a breach of contract with the nuclear energy commission. The DOE promised to dispose of the industry?s nuclear waste, and to date it has failed to do so. The majority of spent nuclear fuel rods, which are comprised of uranium, are stored in the 107 commercial nuclear power plants currently operating in the United States. These facilities are quickly reaching their threshold for storage and other alternatives must be developed. ?Currently, only three sites accept low-level waste (LLW): Envirocare in Clive, Utah (on aboriginal Goshute territory immediately next to the reservation); Bamwell in South Carolina; and Hanford in Washington? (Goshutes 2).
The Skull Valley Goshute Tribe?s incentive for hosting the MRS facility is strictly financial. The following excerpt from the Twin Cities Reader describes the possible financial gains the await the Goshute Tribe if the facility is approved:
PFS and the gang tried and failed to get a similar deal for mid-term storage on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico. But in the case of the Mescalero Indians, local and state opposition weren?t successful in breaking off negotiations; the tribe had a collective change of hearrt, reportedly after an anti-nuke scolding by tribal elders, and voted to reject the plan.
The tiny Skull Valley band is run by one family. Moreover, spreading the money between so few people may be an irresistible incentive. The 2,500 member Mescalero tribe turned down a reported $250 million in compensation and benefits. If the Skull Valley band is offered the same financial package, it would work out to more than $2 million per member. (Parker 2)
PFS is a private firm that will construct and manage the MRS facility. The estimated annual cost for storing spent fuel is $8 million per nuclear facility. PFS?s interests are bottom line motivated, and there is great demand for their services. The eleven members that make up the PFS are extremely powerful and have large lobbyist groups assisting them in passing legislation required for them to conduct business. None of the states where these businesses are located have nuclear storage facilities. These facilities do store their own spent fuel rods, but this practice does not require they transport the waste using public transportation. Locating a remote MRS facility would require the waste to be transported by rail or over the road carrier.
Utah?s Governor, Mike Leavitt, is vehemently opposed to the proposed MRS facility. Governor Leavitt believes the project is a major threat to Utah?s health and safety. The governor is attempting to block rail crossing permits, strip companies involved in the plan of their liability protections, and get state ownership of federal lands that surround the reservation so he can effectively place a moat of state land around the site. To date the governor has gained control of the county road that goes through Skull Valley and is lobbying the state government to pass legislation that would inhibit the facility from opening. The governor is so adamant about keeping the facility out of Utah he has joined forces with another stakeholder in this case; the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). The governor and SUWA are generally at odds over environmental issues, but as the following excerpt explains Leavitt needs all the allies he can get: ?On a statewide basis, the wilderness issue has put Leavitt in an uncomfortable position of balancing the needs of rural Utah with the desires of the predominately urban environmental movement. If wilderness can be a another tool to keep nuclear waste out of Utah, the governor will likely use it. In December, the governor lost an ally when a group of private landowner dropped their opposition to the waste dump after PFS paid them off. SUWA, which often criticizes Leavitt?s leadership in resolving the wilderness debate, welcomes the new alliance? (Israelsen 1). SUWA is lobbying to get the North Cedar Mountains designated as federal wilderness area. The area is located on the west side of Skull Valley. ?PFS has applied with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to build a rail spur on BLM land near the Union Pacific line next to Interstate I-80 near the north end of the Cedar Mountains. A new rail spur would extend south along the base of the mountains then east to the waste storage site in Skull Valley? (Israelsen 1).
The Department of Environmental Quality is also against the proposed Skull Valley MRS facility. ?Bill Sinclair is the director of the Division of Radiation Control for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. ?Utah already bears more than its fair load of the scary stuff for the rest of the country, Sinclair says. ?It?s a waste-equity issue,? he says, as he ticks off the list of hazardous sites located in Tooele, County. Utah, he notes, has no nuclear power plants of its own? (Parker 1).
The residents of Tooele, County are split over the issue of whether to locate the MRS facility in Skull Valley. Some of the residents see the facility as an opportunity for jobs. The residents believe the facility would give their children an opportunity to stay in the county. Other residents oppose the facility due to the inherent dangers of nuclear radiation.
The Western Governors? Association web site stated the following objective for their transportation program:
The objective of the Western Governors’ Association Radioactive Waste Program is the safe and uneventful transport of waste from temporary storage facilities to more suitable treatment and storage facilities. Western Governors recognize development of a successful transportation program requires cooperation among the western states, the U.S. Department of Energy and Transportation, and any private shippers of radioactive waste. A transportation safety and information program similar to that developed between the western states and the U.S. Department of Energy for the shipment of transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant should be utilized for all route-controlled and special radioactive waste shipping campaigns.
A transportation safety program must focus on the states’ prominent role in the areas of planning, evaluating routes, ensuring shipment vehicle and driver safety, preventing accidents, preparing emergency and medical response teams, and informing the public. Early coordination and effective communications by all potential shippers with state, tribal, and local governments is essential to the ultimate success of any radioactive waste transportation safety program. (WGA 1).
Despite this noble sounding objective the Salt Lake Tribune reported the following: ?Western governors voted 9-2 Tuesday in favor of a resolution calling for the spent fuel from America?s nuclear power plants to be left where it is rather than be transported to a storage site in the West? (Harrie 1). Utah Governor, Mike Leavitt was the sponsor of this non-binding resolution.
Two thirds of the Skull Valley Goshute tribe support the MRS facility, but the remaining members have hired a three-person law firm to oppose the facility. PFS is battling the opposition with a high-priced legal machine. The minority members of the tribe are requesting government appropriations in the amount of $200,000 to finance this battle. The state of Utah originally appropriated $50,000 to help with their legal fees, but taxpayers are now reluctant to keep donating funds.
The stakeholders for and against the project to locate the MRS facility at the Skull Valley Reservation all have valid reasons for their opinions. The Goshutes have the right to locate the facility on their land. They value their families and want to provide for them the best way they can. The consequences of these actions may endanger their reservation, but with the money they make in the deal will allow them the opportunity to live any where they want. The Goshutes are responsible for their tribe and in the Native American culture they can justify their actions. The Goshute tribe is not considering the rights of the citizens of Utah or the other states where the hazardous waste will be transported in over the road carriers and rail cars.
The PFS values the profit that can be made from operating an MRS facility. The consequences of not locating the MRS facilities are they will have to maintain the storage of this material at their power plants. This is a costly liability for these companies. The PFS is responsible to their customers and the stockholders of the company and their business decision are based on these ideals.
The DOE is a division of the U.S. government and is suppose to be responsible to the American people. In this case they value their legal obligations, the money and the power that the PFS?s lobbyist maintain. The consequences of their actions, which in this case is to locate the MRS facility in Utah, will endanger people around the U.S. due to the transportation of the hazardous waste from the power plants to the remote MRS site.
The stakeholders against locating the MRS facility at the Skull Valley Reservation have the right not to be endangered by the hazardous waste that their state, or states, does not generate. The waste-equity issue that was raised by Bill Sinclair is a valid issue. Just because a state, or in this case a county has a high population of hazardous waste facilities it does not make it right to locate another facility in the same location because the risk of a catastrophic event increases proportionately.
Utah Governor, Mike Leavitt, values his state and its residents and the consequences of his actions will either delay the siting of a hazardous waste facility or cause the project to fail completely. Some residents may suffer due to this but the majority will benefit form the process. Governor Leavitt is responsible to his constituents and he actions are consistent with his values.
The SUWA values Utah?s wilderness areas. The area?s environment and animals are the responsibility of the SUWA members. The consequences of their actions will help preserve the wilderness areas of Utah for generation to come. The SUWA members are protecting the rights of the next generation to have wilderness areas to enjoy.
The Western Governors? Association values their states and their constituents. The consequences of their actions may prevent additional hazardous waste from being transported through their respective states. The governor?s actions are in line with their responsibilities to their states.
The Skull Valley Goshute contingent that is opposed to the MRS facility values the land of their forefathers and have vowed to keep it safe from the hazardous materials that threaten it. The consequences of fighting the siting of the MRS facility in Skull Valley are felt by the taxpayers of Utah. The minority members of the Skull Valley Tribe do not have the financial resources to support a legal battle and therefore the state is appropriating funds for the lawyers. The responsibility of these tribe members is to the future generations of the Skull Valley Goshute tribe.
The position I chose to take in this case is that of the CEO of the Private Fuel Storage consortium. The PFS has spent millions of dollars trying unsuccessfully to locate nuclear waste storage facilities in various parts of the country. The cost of constructing an eighteen-acre facility on the Skull Valley Reservation is estimated at $125 million. The payment to the Skull Valley Goshute Tribe is estimated at $250 million over a period of 40 years. An estimate for the concrete and steel to manufacture and maintain the casks, which hold the radioactive material, is $1 billion over the life of the facility. The cost of fighting the legal roadblocks presented by the various opposition groups, paying off landowners and financing lobbyist efforts is estimated in the millions.