(3 points for every correct answer; 1 point for every bonus question.)

 

  1. This neighborhood of Niagara Falls became an infamous superfund site in the 1970s – the first time in US history that emergency funds were used for something other than a natural disaster. The health of hundreds of its citizen were adversely affected (including miscarriages, birth defects, and symptoms associated with leukemia) when the 22,000 barrels of toxic waste disposed by the Hooker Chemical Company (now Occidental Petroleum) were compromised during the construction of local schools.

 

  1. This Swiss-based company was the target of an international boycott in the late 1970s for their “aggressive marketing” of breast milk substitutes to the poor in less economically developed countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, as many as 1.5 million child deaths could be prevented each year worldwide through improved breastfeeding practices and a reduction in the use of infant formulas.[1]

Bonus: Name any one of several other controversies this company has been involved in.

 

  1. This aerospace contractor (along with NASA) ignored warnings from its own engineers that the O-rings it had designed for the Space Shuttle “Challenger” performed poorly at low temperatures. The shuttle exploded shortly after launch on brisk January day in 1986, killing all seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from New Hampshire.

Bonus: One of those engineers, Bob Ebeling, recalled telling his daughter what, on the day of the launch.

 

  1. In December of 1984, the leakage of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from one of this company’s plants in Bhopal, India led to what is still considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. Estimates vary, but 2,259 to 3,787 people are believed to have been killed immediately, and approximately 20,000 deaths are thought to have resulted in total. It is further estimated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 3900 severely and permanently debilitating injuries.

Bonus question: MIC is used as an intermediate in the production of what?

 

  1. With $63.4 billion in assets, the bankruptcy of this Texas-based American energy company in the 1990s was, at the time, the largest in US history, as well as the biggest audit failure. At least 20,000 people lost their jobs when this company collapsed. Its downfall also led to the demise of Arthur Anderson, one of the five largest audit and accountancy partnerships in the world, resulting in the loss of another 113,000 jobs worldwide.

Bonus questions: What did this company’s bankruptcy result in the eventual passing of in July 2002, and what was the unofficial nickname given to its logo following the scandal?

 

 

 

ANSWERS

  1. Love Canal. In 1953, Hooker Chemical had sold the property to the Niagara Falls School Board – and clauses were inserted in the contract which the company believed both (1) absolved them from any and all future lawsuits that might arise because of the site, and (2) transferred all responsibility for maintaining the site to the school board. Ultimately, the federal government relocated more than 800 families and reimbursed them for the loss of their homes. According to an article in USAToday in 2013, the cite may still be leaking chemicals today.[2]

Give yourself 1 bonus point if you recognized the iconic photo shown above was taken at that site.

 

  1. Nestle – The boycott in the US was suspended in 1984 after Nestle agreed to follow an international marketing code endorsed by the WHO. However, in May 2011, the debate over Nestlé’s unethical marketing of infant formula was re-launched in the Asia-Pacific region.

Bonus answers (any one of the following): Chocolate price fixing, utilizing child labor, making false or exaggerated packaging claims, and drawing water in California with an expired permit.

 

  1. Morton-Thiokol or Thiokol (now part of Orbital ATK)

Bonus answer: Ebeling (pronounced EBB-ling)—who left the engineering profession entirely following the disaster—remembers telling his daughter on that fateful day: “The Challenger is going to blow up. Everyone’s going to die.”[3] It has been said that he never fully recovered after the accident. On the 30th anniversary of the disaster, he furthermore told Howard Berkes of NPR: “I think this was one of the mistakes that God made. He shouldn’t have picked me for that job. I don’t know, but next time I talk to him, I’m going to ask him, ‘Why? You picked a loser.’”

 

  1. Union Carbide. The cause of the disaster is still a matter of debate – the Indian government and local activists argue it was slack management and deferred maintenance that led to the leak, while the company claims it was an act of sabotage. Chemicals at the abandoned plant continue to leak, although whether they pose a health hazard is disputed. In 2009, the BBC took a water sample from a frequently used hand pump located just north of the plant. The sample was found to contain 1,000 times the WHO’s recommended maximum amount of carbon tetrachloride, a known carcinogen.[4]

Bonus answer: Pesticides. (Rubber and adhesives are also acceptable.)

 

  1. Enron. In May of 2004, former employees sued Enron, and were awarded $85 million (or about $3100 per worker) for the nearly $2 billion that was lost from their pensions. Unethical marketing practices, off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and “deals so bewildering that few people could understand them”[5] are all thought to have contributed to Enron’s (and Arthur Anderson’s) unraveling.

Bonus answers: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and “The Crooked ‘E’.”[6]

 

 

All questions/answers based on the relevant Wikipedia entries, unless otherwise noted.

Want to know how you stack-up? Shoot me an email with your score at insubordinate@insubordinationblog.com.

 

 


[1] “Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding” WHO and UNICEF, 2003. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42590/1/9241562218.pdf?ua=1&ua=1. Retrieved June 28, 2016.

[2] “Lawsuits: Love Canal still oozes 35 years later” by Carolyn Thompson, Nov. 2, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/11/02/suits-claim-love-canal-still-oozing-35-years-later/3384259/. Retrieved June 26, 2016.

[3] From Eberling’s New York Times obituary, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/26/science/robert-ebeling-challenger-engineer-who-warned-of-disaster-dies-at-89.html?_r=0. Retrieved April 21, 2016.

[4] “Bhopal marks 25 years since gas leak devastation,” BBC News, Dec. 3, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8392206.stm. Retrieved June 28, 2106.

[5] McLean, Bethany, and Peter Elkind. 2003. The Smartest Guys in the Room. ISBN: 1-59184-008-2, p. 132-133.

[6] “By the Sign of the Crooked E” by Michael Duffy. Jan. 19, 2002. TIME Magazine (online) http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,195268,00.html. Retrieved June 28, 2016.