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Ethical Disasters

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Alexis Hall

on 23 October 2014

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Transcript of Ethical Disasters

A series of pumps feeding water to the steam generators at reactor 2 failed
This causes a temperature and pressure increase in the reactor

As designed, a relief valve opens draining water from the reactor core
This causes a sudden pressure drop

Emergency coolant is pumped into the reactor

Failing to notice the relief valve is stuck open, an operator shuts down one of the emergency coolant pumps

After 2 hours and 22 minutes the backup relief valve is shut
Background Cont'd
Communication Failure

Operators were not properly trained
Management communication process had three basic problems
The lines of communication did not compliment the decision making process
The procedures did not provide for effective feedback
The procedures often were quite informal
One of the engineers also gave false information to the public
Violated 3 Fundamental Canons
Canon 1
Canon 2
Canon 7
The Disaster
February 7, 2014 General Motors recalled about 800,000 small cars due to faulty ignition switches.
The design of the GM ignition switch caused recalls that range from

Recalls on the ignition switch started in February of this year, but the defect was known many years beforehand.

redesigned the Cobalt ignition switch in 2006, without documenting the change. This shows the defect was known in the Cobalt at least
years prior to the recall.

Emails exchanged with the supplier from DeGiorgio revealed
mention of
concerns regarding the updated ignition switch.

While under testing,
hit the key ring with their knee and it moved to accessory position, stalling the car. The "...incident was categorized as an annoyance rather than a safety issue."
GM CEO Ms. Barra confirms this during ECC hearing.
"GM engineers knew about the defect. GM investigators knew about the defect. GM lawyers knew about the defect. But GM did not act to protect Americans from defect."
~David Friedman
NHTSA Administrator

High cost of repair outweighed customer safety
Lead to the death of at least 13 people
Undergoing multiple lawsuits for families of victims
This scandal caused a major decline in the public's view of General Motors.

Violated 2 Fundamental Canons
Canon 1
Canon 7
General Motors Ignition

3 Mile Island Disaster
General Motors Ignition Failure
Ethical Disasters!
Mattlyn Dragoo
Alexis Hall
Zachary Hardina
Nathan Herrera
William Rocha

Design Flaw
The GM Ignition Switch Recall: Investigation Update. (2014, June 18).
Energy & Commerce Committee
[Online]. Available: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/the-gm-ignition-switch-recall-investigation-update
Engine would shut off during driving with the slightest nudge of your keys
Prevents the airbags from deflating
It is believed that this faulty design was approved in 2002 even though they did not meet the safety standards.
Leaving consumers to believe that this fault was known for about 10 years prior to the actual recall
Angelo Young. (2014, March 12). GM Reall 2014: Pictures of the tiny ignition switch part that could cost general motors dearly. IBTimes. [Online]. Available:http://www.ibtimes.com/gm-recall-2014-pictures-tiny-ignition-switch-part-could-cost-general-motors-dearly-photos-1561011
From the presented information, due to General Motors knowledge about the faulty ignition design 10 years prior to a recall, causing several fatalities, and giving false testimony it was determined that this Ignition failure is the most important ethical disaster.
Violated Canons #1 and #7

Info Source: No Author. (2006, Feb. 2). Detailed Description of Accident. Online Ethics Center for Engineering [Website]. Available: www.onlineethics.org/Resources/Cases/tmiindex/desc.aspx
C.C. Verschoor. (2014, July 12). Ethics Missteps Damage Brand Value.
[Online]. Available: http://www.imanet.org/PDFs/Public/SF/2014_07/07_2014_ethics.pdf
T. Eifler
et al
. (2014, August 14). Robustness and Reliability of the GM Ignition Switch - A Forensic Engineering Case.
1st International Symposium on Robust Design.
[Online]. Available: http://proceedings.dtu.dk/fedora/repository/dtu:2086
Peter Valdes-Dapena and Tal Yellin. GM: Steps to a recall nightmare. CNNMoney. [online]. Available: http://money.cnn.com/infographic/pf/autos/gm-recall-timeline/
Mathes, J , "Three Mile Island: The Management Communication Role". RetrievedOctober , 2014 Available: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0167541986900220
A lack of coolant caused a partial meltdown of the core
This created a toxic hydrogen bubble that eventually exploded

Due to damage the reactor was permanently shutdown

This incident solidified the public's opinion against nuclear power

No new reactors have been built in the US since the incident

Though minimal, the disaster caused some contamination of the surrounding area
Image Source:http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/nucreactor.html
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