Environmental pollution has been a subject of discussion for many years. The reason is that it results in adverse effects on the ecosystem, humans and animals. Efforts have been made to curtail and mitigate the pollutants implementing better waste management practices (Goldstein, n.d.). One of the practices used is incineration, which is aimed at preventing future health impacts by destroying waste today without risking the lives of communities neighboring the facility. Incineration facilities produce numerous pollutants which are harmful to human health. They include the release toxic metals, dioxins and acid gases into the atmosphere. However, the community should not be worried as the plant which has to be constructed will have adequate controls. Besides, the incinerator will reduce atmospheric pollutants by using power from waste-fired plants rather than coal-fired plants.
To avoid misinterpretation and change the negative effects of the community on the plant, there should be a public hearing to address the major complaints by the neighbors. The neighbors complain of odors and contaminated air, truck traffic, including reduced pedestrian safety, noise increased pollution, traffic congestion and vibration, as well as fear of exposure to toxins as the waste related process emit toxic substances to water, air and soil. The company needs to assure the community that they will control air pollution by ensuring that the plant has adequate controls (Joint Institute of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition & Food Safety Risk Analysis Clearinghouse n.d.). For the truck traffic, the company should ensure that the trucks operate at night. Atmospheric pollutants can be reduced by using waste fired plant. The State of California governors should ensure that a valid environmental report is prepared before issuing a state permit approving the project. It is done to ensure that the company constructing the incinerator has measures to maintain the health of the community.
The local community can use zoning and nuisance laws to control the facility. Residents can use the definitions provided by the law to their advantage. The facility exposes residents to nuisances, such as noise and air pollution. The California law identifies them as public nuisances, as they affect the whole neighborhood simultaneously. The construction affects the health, expediency, as well as comfort of the entire public. In this case, the construction of the facility results in considerable harm to the residents. Besides, the severity of the damage exacted seems to outweigh the social utility provided by the facility. The principle of non-maleficence can be applied in this case. It means doing no harm and ensuring that the benefits offered by the facility outweigh the harm caused to the public. Under the California Civil Code § 3479, the action in the current case causes public nuisance. The reason is that the whole neighborhood is impacted by the various factors outlined by the code as causing nuisance. The local community can prove that the construction of the facility can result in considerable harm, thus violating individual right.
Zoning laws are enacted in municipalities to establish the kinds of land use that can take place on every property lot. They control how land is used and, as a result, the laws manage the resultant environmental, as well as health effects. Zoning regulations are universal in California and the local community can use them to control the construction of the facility, which they deem harmful to their health (North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, 2009). The laws have extensive impacts on deleterious employment of land, as well as any related health and environment consequences. Zoning laws legally allow the location of harmful land uses in the borough. It implies that the laws limit the construction of waste management facilities and only allows them in certain zones. Zoning laws guarantee the local community environmental justice whereby, residents are adequately safeguarded from the environmental harm.
Prior to the construction of any project, the local, as well as state agencies, must declare their approval. The local government has the responsibility of enacting zoning laws in cities and counties. Zoning is defined as the management of land use by the authority. The local government divides land into zones, wherein different uses are allowed. However, the state can issue permits to the construction of the facility without having zoning. In this case, the benefit of constructing the facility must outweigh the harm inflicted on the local community. Besides, it is not possible to eradicate the risk completely. As a result, scientific information must be provided on whether the risk caused can be tolerated by the residents. All stakeholders involved should be given a chance to give their views in order to allow sound decision-making.
Environmental impact assessment is the formal process of predicting the impacts of a project, both positive and negative, prior to implementation (Goldstein, n.d.). Though, incineration of the hazardous waste will form an important part of waste management system, strict controls are required to mitigate the environment and human health. A public hearing will serve the purposes of risk communication. Risk communication can be defined as an interactive process of exchanging information and opinions amongst individuals. It is important as it raises the level of comprehension of important issues or actions for the affected individuals and satisfies them. It also helps to ensure that they are sufficiently informed within the limits of existing technology.
In every environmental situation, it is important to use all inclusive and sound principles to provide reliability to the risk management frameworks. The guiding principles in such situation were used with the aim of attaining an ethical ground, considering the numerous factors involved in risk management decision-making. Some of the principles applied to the situation at hand include:
- Do more good than harm - the company members did all possible to ensure that they minimize and/or prevent the anticipated risks as much as possible.
- Fair process of decision-making, which should be achieved by involving the affected community.
- Promise not more risk management that can be delivered - the company members were able to avoid unrealistic expectations of the project by providing the public with information on what can or cannot be achieved using risk assessment and management.
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