Synopsis- Gilbane Gold
Gilbane Gold is the name given to dried sludge from the Gilbane wastewater treatment plant. It is sold to farmers as a commercial fertilizer. The annual revenue generated saves the average family about $300 a year in taxes. Several years ago the city of Gilbane established limits on the discharge of heavy metals to the sewers in order to protect Gilbane Gold from the build-up of toxic materials that could end up in the farmer's soil. These limits are ten times more restrictive than Federal limits. However, the limits are based on the concentration of the discharge with no restrictions on total weight of material discharged.
Z CORP is a computer components manufacturer which discharges wastewater containing small amounts of lead and arsenic into the city sewer system. By the current city test standards, the discharge usually' meets the allowable levels for heavy metals. However, a newer test, known only to Z CORP environmental people, shows the discharge exceeds the city test standards. An ethical dilemma arises within Z CORP concerning whether to advise the city of the newer test. Acceptance of the newer test would require additional investment in clean-up equipment. Tom Richards is a Z CORP environmental engineering consultant who was fired for advocating the new test. Thereafter, David Jackson, an engineer working for Z CORP, "goes public" with his views. A television media investigation results.
Complicating the situation is the fact that Z CORP has just received a contract for five times as many computer modules as they presently produce, albeit at a very thin profit margin. The increased production means five times as much waste will be produced. The discharge concentration can be kept the same by adding five times the amount of water, thus still meeting the existing city standards. The result, however, is that Gilbane Gold has five times the amount of heavy metals in it as before. The Z CORP vice president is opposed to changing the test standards because that would require additional investment in wastewater treatment equipment. This could cause Z CORP to lose money on the new contract. The vice president contends that Z CORP's responsibility is to provide jobs and a payroll and that the city should worry about the environment.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
David Jackson Young environmental engineer
Tom Richards Environmental engineering consultant
Phil Port Manager and head of Z CORP's
Frank Seeders Z CORP engineering manager
Diane Collins Z CORP vice president in charge
Lloyd Bremen Former state commissioner
Dr. Winslow Massin Professor emeritus, Hanolier
Marla Renato TV reported from Channel 13
Dan Martin Lawyer for Z CORP