An Ethical Analysis of the MGPI Toxic Chemical Release in Atchison, Kansas 2016
This paper examines MGPI’s unethical actions that led to the formation of a toxic chlorine gas plume on October 16, 2016 at their plant in Atchison, Kansas. Two parties were involved in the accident: MGPI and Harcros Chemicals. MGPI distills alcohols and Harcros Chemicals delivers specialty chemicals. While making a routine delivery to the MGPI plant, a Harcros truck driver inserted a hose containing sulfuric acid into the sodium hypochlorite fill line, leading to a reaction farther up the line in the sodium hypochlorite tank. This reaction led to six hospitalizations and necessitated medical attention for 140 others. Although the toxic gas release may seem most directly a result of the Harcros chemical driver filling the wrong fill line, it is actually the result of MGPI’s failure to follow professional ethical tenets. We apply Chevron Phillips’ tenets of operation as a guideline for what tenets MGPI ought to have followed because following these tenets has aided Chevron Phillips’ in becoming one of the safest companies in the chemical industry. Therefore, by violating many of Chevron Phillips’ tenets of operation in their safety procedures, MGPI acted unsafely and unethically. Since the incident, MGPI has made efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring and to take care of its local community. Delivery companies and chemical plants can learn from this accident to reevaluate their own systems to address possible dormant chemical safety threats and prevent similar accidents from occurring.