A civil/environmental engineer working for a private corporation is asked to develop a means for disinfecting its industrial sludge. He decides to use high doses of chlorine to do the job because it is available at the plant. Laboratory studies show that this method is highly efficient and inexpensive. The plant is constructed.After years of operation, it is discovered that the effluent from the plant contains very high concentrations of trihalomethane (e.g., chloroform). This chemical is carcinogenic, and people downstream have been drinking this water.
a. It is possible that the company engineer knew about the formation of trihalomethane and of its health effect but decided to construct the facility anyway.
b. It is also possible that the company engineer did not know that the chlorine would cause potential health problems, even though the effect of chlorine and high organic materials such as wastewater sludge have been known for a long time to competent environmental engineers.
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