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The Authorities – New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) There were

several public agencies and regulatory bodies involved in the Love Ca nal fiasco such as the Niagara Falls Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH), t he United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the federal governmen t. Of these, two agencies were deeply embroiled in the Love Canal controversy, n amely the NYSDH and the EPA. The main roles and responsibilities of these public regulatory bodies are to saf eguard public health and to protect the environment. For instance, the EPA state s that they have the “primary responsibility for enforcing many of the environment al statutes and regulations of the United States” and possesses the authority to e nforce these statues on individuals or corporations alike. In the case of Love C anal, their actions are heavily regulated by political and economic concerns whi ch affected their primary responsibility towards protecting public health. This section examines the ethical responsibilities of the regulatory agencies in resp onse to the Love Canal disaster. Factual Issues One of the initial actions undertaken by the officials following the media cover age of Love Canal was to restrict access to the affected area and begin medical studies on residents. Not long after, it was found that air in the basement was indeed noxious and further studies indicated that residents living near Love Can al experienced more acute health problems than expected in the general populatio n (Harris, 2009). On the 2nd of August, 1978, Love Canal was declared a health emergency. This was followed by the decision to purchase the homes nearest to Love Canal, to reallo cate the residents and to construct a drainage system, all of which resulted in a cost of 42 million dollars (Harris, 2009). After that, the NYSDH did a survey and concluded that there was no danger to the rest of the neighborhood. However, on the 8th of December, a number of toxic chemicals including dioxin were disco vered and that worried the residents living in the outskirts of the affected are a. The state refused to reallocate these people citing lack of scientific eviden ce (Niagara Gazette, 1980). Over the next few years, residents tussled with the health officials, complainin g about their ineffectiveness and reluctance to reallocate despite the discoveri es of more chemicals. Conceptual Issues The factual issues mentioned in the preceding paragraph raise several questions and controversies. Firstly, should health officials make decisions consistent wi th bureaucratic imperatives or should they be more flexible given the pressing c ircumstances? Could the officials have acted in a manner that is balanced betwee n accountability for the funds spent and their responsibility to Love Canal resi dents? Secondly, should officials be allowed to disclose scientific studies befo re proper peer review is performed? Bearing in mind that doing so undermines the credibility of these studies yet at the same time not disclosing them can arous e suspicion and distrust among the public. Thirdly, how much information should authorities disclose to the public, considering that too much can cause panic ye t too little may deny peoples’ rights to information. Fourthly, to what extent is it ethical for the agency preparing reallocation to conduct its own investigatio n into the matter? To understand these issues better, we analyze them using several ethical framewo rks. Impact of economic and political factors on duty ethics Public officials realized that reallocation and environmental clean-ups were cos tly endeavors. Furthermore there were other waste disposal sites around the coun try at that time and Love Canal could be used as a precedent for others seeking compensation from the government under similar circumstances (Harris, 2009). Fro m the viewpoint of the officials, it is simply not cost-effective to continue wi th compensation and reallocation. It is also difficult for state officials to ju stify spending beyond the 42 million already incurred without appreciable risks

Cross examination of sc ientific data not only probes the reliability of the given data and can offer in . In Love Canal. it can be argued that they have a professional duty to ensure tha t there a balance between protecting the lives and interests of Love Canal resid ents and proper management of taxpayer’s money. Hence they have greater responsibility to help the residents of Love Canal. Any attempt to downplay the seriousness of the disaste r is shying away from responsibility and not addressing the issue seriously. we find that monopolization of inform ation does not maximize overall good since only one party is better off. Furthermore. Whichever the case. The first argument states that inanimate objects such as rocks and lands possess intrinsic value and that we must respect those values. the EPA is accountable for the protection of the environment. both the EPA and NYSDH possess th e moral duty to safeguard the health and welfare of citizens which include Love Canal residents. These agencies possess far greater resources and expertise than the community of Love Canal and are in a better pos ition to resolve the problem. Furthermore. the state is limited in providing help to Love Canal residents. Duty ethi cs stipulate that as health regulatory bodies. both arguments reflect the duty that the EPA possesses. Recall that t hey were worried that Love Canal could be used as a precedent for other cases in volving similar compensation. On their part. then it is absolutely justified to evacuate them. the EPA and NYSDH are not performing their duties to the fullest and should have done more. They have the right to safe livin g conditions and a lack of information denies them of that right. This asymmetry of information betwee n the health authorities and the residents had aroused feelings of animosity amo ng the residents and caused much inefficiency in resolving problems. This moral obligation can be argued from two perspectives. The pub lic should be informed on the relevant and possible environmental dangers of liv ing in Love Canal so as to protect themselves. the agencies consolidating the information are the ones who will re quest to the federal government for funds and decide on the reallocation process . A more competent agency would have recommended more stringent legislatures on env ironmental degradation and more severe punishments on the offenders. If the environment poses an imminent threat to residents. Hence. the EPA seemed to be more preoccupie d with fulfilling their bureaucratic duties rather than developing measures to e nsure that such disasters will not happen again across the nation. These implications suggest that officials would be motivated t o downplay the seriousness of the environmental dangers and insist that the prob lem had been revolved with the reallocation of the 239 homes. They had more resources and funding yet refused to provide the local community with information or the r esources for them to seek external help. It can be said that the EPA was adopting a minimal ist approach to handling the disaster rather than with due care or good works. This blurs ethical boundaries and raises questions on whether the results of t he research obtained were indeed objective. Reasons for this could be that they did not want to appear incompetent before the congress or they wanted to stifle opp osing views. The second suggests that these values are not intr insic but rather instrumental. Utilitarianism If we were to consider utilitarian ethics. Scientists should be allowed access to scientific data to conduct their own rese arch and to examine the studies done by the authorities. This also explains why the state had been quick to conclude that the dangers of Love Canal were li mited to the proximity of the homes to it despite criticisms from the scientific community that there could be a link between the migration of toxic chemicals a nd the location of swales. Und er this ethical framework. unless more funding is avai lable. Monopolization of information violates the peoples’ rights to their careers. Some independent scientists claim that they have been harassed when they offered views that were contrary to that of health officials. Rights to information and safety An underlying theme that was consistent throughout the handling of the disaster was the health authorities’ unwillingness to cooperate with other independent scie ntists and their lack of transparency with information. meaning that inanimate objects have value insofar that they are useful to humans.

pp. “Engineering ethics. pp. June Fes senden-Raden and Stuart M. On a separate note.jstor. But given the circums tances at that time. 2. 1-25. “Controversy at Love Canal”. 1980. Poor judgment and management throughout the years has caused the situation to ex acerbate beyond what it originally was. Beverly Paigen.Rabins. References 1. Love Canal Chronologies. 4 (Summer 1983). 256 – 259 3. the authorities have not been fully transparent to the public and have not performed their duties to the best of their abilities. Michael “Love Canal and the ethics of environmental health”. http://www. Charles E. extensive studies need to be conducted. Niagara Gazette. authorities could have been more open with the public. May 23. It is true that to fully understand the extent of damage and contamination. The Hastings Center Report. This has caused delays in resolving the problem and greater suffering. Business & Professional Ethics Journal. They could have worked with the residents to overcome the probl em instead they chose to work behind close doors. Brown Jr. James Brummer.Harris. Vol . http://www. 3 (June 1982). published 2009. there is greater good in sharing information. (accessed on 25/10/2012) 4. Conclusion On the basis of the above arguments and analysis. pp. http://library. do we really need to consider a full documentation of the a dverse effects in order to justify reallocation? Perhaps the authorities could h ave exercised some impunity in judgment and be more flexible to some of the dema nds of the residents. No. Michael S. 29 – 37. concepts and cases”.php (accessed on 26/10/ 2012) . The reason for these delays largely hinge on the insistence that ther e was insufficient evidence to conclude that there was seepage of chemicals outs ide the affected (accessed on 25/10/2012) 2. Hence.sights to the resolution of the issue.b uffalo. Vol . 12.jstor.