As an engineering student, I organized myself and visited an engineering processing plant called BP Refinery, Queensland to investigate the environmental impacts of its location in this locality. Of course, this is one of the most influential cautions that should be taken, because it is a legal requirement for the engineering firms and all their employees to be concerned with environmental pollution.
The management of such plants should not take anything for granted. At no one time should they contribute to the occurrence of the widely disastrous Deepwater Horizon, Piper Alpha, Mexico City, in the recent past. Therefore, I had to do a lot of preparations in order to ensure that my trip was a success.
It is only through this dedication that I could make the necessary observations and gather the necessary information that would be useful for my research. Hence, before my actual date, I had to seek for permission from the relevant authorities. Then, I sent an email to the park management seeking for permission to pay a visit to their facility.
After my reconnaissance, which was conducted on 1st/08/2012, I finally made an actual visit to the plant, on 20th/08/2012. I made the possible arrangements and paid my fee before I was given a guide to accord me the necessary help. Meanwhile, I was armed with my photo and video cameras, a note book, a pen, just to mention, but a few. What perplexed me was the cooperation I got from, Mr. Craig, my guide. He was useful to me throughout the period of my trip. He, thus, made my work easier than I could ever think. He was kind and knowledgeable on most of the activities of the firm.
In order to be able to achieve my goals, I had t use a variety of instruments in gathering information. These, included, but not limited the following:
i) Direct Oobservation.
I had to use my physical presence in this factory to help me get a bit of the data that would be useful to me. I spent a lot of time at observing the surrounding, location, machines and various departmental records, in order to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the environmental policies.
I also took time to conduct a series of live interviews with a number of people. I did all that, so I could seek the opinion of both the board of directors, senior management, engineers, suppliers, clients and the general public. Through this approach, I was able to gather a lot of information that would help me do this research as planned.
iii) Use of Questionnaires.
I also opted to design sheets of paper, in which I gave a blend of open and closed ended questions aimed at helping me to satisfy my mission. I was immensely pleased with the marvellous responses that I got from my respondents. More specifically, I put a lot of focus on the engineers who freely agreed to answer my questions. From them, I gathered a lot of information that proved instrumental in accomplishing my mission at their facility.
Having carried my photo and video cameras, I was able to take a lot of still and video photos. I used my photographing skills to take pictures of amusing and pleasurable scenes. Through this, I managed to carry with me the images of the unique things: buildings, offices, machines, raw materials, products, employees and the surrounding.
These pictures were extremely useful to me when I was analyzing my data, because I could now provide first hand information in line with my research. Besides, it enabled me to have a tangible evidence of all that I could be interested in doing. On the same note, these pictures could later be preserved for future use particularly when writing any other research paper. It could be used as an important source of secondary data.
After carrying out the said procedure, I eventually got a lot of information that would be of immense importance in answering my research questions. Therefore, I would like to report the following as my findings:
i) It was found out that the location of this the BP Refinery is highly detrimental to the life of people in this place. This is true because it contributed to environmental pollution in many ways. It discharges hazardous wastes to the nearby water basins and causes a lot of noise to the people in this place. This was truly dangerous to their health.
ii) At the same time, it was found out that the engineers employed at this plant have developed a careless spirit. Other than the aforementioned sources of pollution, there still exist radioactive waves and vibrations. However, this was also found to be unhealthy to the inhabitants of this town.
iii) Besides, the research found out that the prevailing situation in this plant has restrained its relationship with the government and the general public. Many respondents attributed this to the plant’s management’s failure to comply with the legal, corporate social responsibility requirements. Hence, if this continues, it risks termination, as per warnings received so far.
iv) Lastly, it was found out that the workers in this plant have not designed safer equipments to be used in its operations. Moreover, most of them are old, worn out machines that are not of any benefit to the lives of people living around the plant. They are not safe at all.
Challenges Faced During the Research
Though I could carry out one of the most successful field trips, I faced a lot of drawbacks during the whole of this period. Precisely, these included the following:
i) Time limitations.
Usually, the organization of a successful trip requires a lot of time. This is one of the main challenges I faced. As a student, I have a lot of activities to perform: reading, attending lectures, carrying out research, working on the assignments, participating in my clubs and other extra-curricular activities. All these challenges demanded my optimum cooperation. At the same time, going to the plant consumed a lot of my time than I could ever imagine, because I had to do a lot of many other activities beyond my expected participation.
However, despite tight schedule, I had to create enough time to prepare for the visit, design the questionnaires and personally visit the park. It was truly difficult to do all of these activities promptly without foregoing some noteworthy activities. For instance, I could not attend all my lectures and execute my leadership roles in my club.
i) Financial Constraints.
Indeed, we all understand that research is a highly expensive affair. Though I am just a mere undergraduate student with no reliable source of income, I had to look for funds, so as to sponsor my trip. At the same time, I had to make a lot of movements and purchases compelled, thus dig deeper into my pockets.
I would not have any way through which I would escape the buying of the cameras, pens, note books and spare more for my transportation, accommodation and upkeep. In the long run, I had to borrow extra cash from my friends.
ii) Poor Weather Conditions
Even if I managed to reach the park as planned, I got interrupted by the heavy pours that occurred on that day. This created poor conditions in the plant, provided that I could not finish all my activities as had been anticipated. As a result, I could not conduct timely interviews, issue questionnaires and make my own observations.
All these activities had to be rescheduled for the following day. Hence, I only managed to wake up early in the morning the following day in order to catch up with my respondents. At the same time, it made hard for me to take any photograph or get in contact with anyone who could answer to my questionnaire or respond to my oral questions. Hence, I had to reschedule my activities to the following day.
Indeed, site visit is a very interesting activity that everybody should be encouraged to participate in. moreover, students should be given an opportunity to take advantage of it. This is simply because; it can help to expose them to the world beyond their immediate surrounding. Hence, they will be challenged and be able to acquire research skills that will build them in their scholarly life.
Honestly, going to this plant is the best thing to happen in my life. Other than the exposure and the lessons learnt, I became very strong owing to the extremely challenging situations I underwent. Truly, this was a life changing situation that will ever make me be an ethical engineer.
Based on the findings of this research, the report gives the following well thought recommendations:
i) The government of Queensland should intervene in finding a remedy to this menace. It should be duty of the government to formulate and oversee the enforcement of the environmental laws governing the operations of such industries. Typically, it can do this by outlining the environmental impact assessment procedures before establishing any commercial plant of this nature. At the same time, it should ensure that stringent measures are taken to deal with those who violate this regulate this regulation.
ii) The BP Refinery engineers should be mindful enough to put the safety of the people primary to anything else. They should do this by designing safer equipments that will not be harmful in any way. Surely, this will help in the prevention of further cases of the persistent noise, radio active and vibration degradation trends. For instance, if they make silencers, no ear will ever be jeopardized.
iii) The plant should be relocated to another place that is safer that the present one. Definitely, this will create room for cleaning the already degraded land in which it now stands. Nevertheless, the movement should act as an eye opener in helping the management to ensure that no negative impact is made anymore.