Chemical, manufacturing, and oil enterprises sometimes employ improper disposal methods to dump toxic waste. These corporations might also use cheap materials as a cost-cutting endeavor to create faulty equipment, leading to accidents. All these inadvertently result in oil spills and industrial waste contamination in the nation’s water.
When that happens, the quality of the water supplied across America deteriorates. Hence, citizens develop health issues like typhoid, respiratory problems, skin diseases, cancer, etc.
In this blog, we will discuss three water contamination incidents and the responsibility of big corporations in water conservation.
3 Water Contamination Incidents That Shocked Americans
America has seen its fair share of contamination incidents resulting from corporate greed and misconduct. Among them, the Camp Lejeune, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and Woburn incidents take the throne.
#1. Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune, a marine base in North Carolina, was plagued with toxic water between 1953 and 1987. For almost thirty years, a dry cleaning company employed illegal methods to dispose of degreasers and other solvents. Hence, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) seeped into two on-base water treatment plants.
During that time, over one million veterans and other residents were exposed to VOCs. These affected individuals developed health issues like ALS, leukemia, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, etc. According to TorHoerman Law, it wasn’t until the enactment of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) that these victims could seek justice. The CLJA allowed the Camp Lejeune residents to file legal claims to seek financial compensation.
As of 2023, the payout for Camp Lejeune lawsuits is estimated to be between USD 10,000 and USD 500,000. Plaintiffs can claim compensation for their loss of lifestyle, lost wages, medical bills, emotional damages, etc. However, the exact payout amount will depend on the extent of their injuries and suffering.
#2. Woburn Water Crisis
In the late 1970s, officials performed tests after east-side Woburn residents complained about a foul smell in the drinking water. Families in that area also witnessed an increase in childhood leukemia. Upon research, they discovered dangerous levels of organic and chemical compounds in two public drinking wells.
They soon discovered the source to be a leak from hundreds of barrels containing industrial fluid. Chemicals leaked from these barrels into the Aberjona River, which supplied most of the city’s drinking water.
Frustrated and angry, the victims filed lawsuits against the responsible parties. After a strenuous legal battle, the plaintiffs received a settlement amount of USD 8 million as compensation for loss of lifestyle, medical bills, emotional damage, etc.
#3. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
In 2010, the Gulf of Mexico witnessed one of the largest oil spills in American history. It happened because of an explosion at the oil drilling rig called Deepwater Horizon. The crude oil from this rig leaked into the ocean water for over eighty-seven days. It not only harmed marine life but also affected life on the shoreline.
After assessing the damages, the government penalized the responsible company for USD 5.5 billion since their actions violated the Clean Water Act. Moreover, the corporation had to pay USD 8.8 billion for damage to natural resources.
Mitigating Water Pollution: Responsibility for Big Corporations?
These incidents prove that managing and maintaining water quality should be a top priority for big corporations. Any enterprise handling toxic chemicals shares the burden of maintaining the common good and bearing the costs of quality regulation. Hence, they need to think about the welfare of the shared environment and honor the community by sidelining greedy profit.
For instance, the industrial sector should invest in costly pollution control devices to maintain water quality. Unfortunately, these can sometimes undercut profits as corporations try to uphold the ‘common good.’
Moreover, corporations are oblivious to the environmental effects their business operations pose. They consider profit their ultimate goal, even at the expense of environmental damage.
But if they don’t adopt conservation measures, everyone will see the corporations’ shortcomings. These include their lack of responsibility and accountability for the environmental problems they’ve caused. If that happens, these enterprises might lose their shareholders and clients.
How Can Corporations Manage Water Quality?
These businesses rely on water to sustain operations but turn a blind eye to water scarcity and pollution. Over the years, the government has presented various environmental regulations to motivate these firms to reduce their negative environmental impact. However, these won’t be enough if the corporation doesn’t act on its volition.
For example, businesses should be proactive in developing conservation plans based on ‘good ethics’ principles. They should also pursue sustainability to manage water quality while maintaining business growth. Moreover, they need to reduce overall consumption by using technology to measure the amount of water they use.
Other than that, corporations need to avoid leakages by investing in high-end technology. These will surely help reduce accidents and spills.
They can also invest in water infrastructure to secure productivity and sustainability. Since most pollution results from negligence and misconduct, companies should take measures to become more responsible.
corporations can help regular people by using innovations or technology to mitigate pollution and conserve water. One way to do that is by implementing water conservation methods in their business plan. Doing so will allow them to make a profit because consumers and shareholders prefer companies with environmental initiatives.