A Cursory Look At Boeing Scandals and Litigation

The Boeing Corporation has not had the shiniest of records, even by the generally tarnished standards of corporate America. Let's take a look at the highlights reel.

1974 - Out of court settlement with the SEC, who had charged Boeing with making a total of $81,000,000 in payoffs to foreign customers. Those customers purchased Boeing products totalling $943,000,000 in sales.

1987 - Workers at the Auburn, Washington plant were exposed to high levels of phenol formaldehyde without adequate warning or protection.

1987 - Boeing was fined eight times by the state of Washington for releasing high levels of acid into the Renton sewer system, and for failing to properly file reports regarding the emissions.

1987 thru 1992 - Seattle issued three separate citations to the Kent Space Center (Boeing) for high-level copper emissions, again into the sewer system.

1988 - Boeing eventually admitted to dumping trichloroethylene (a carcinogenic and mutagenic solvent) onto the ground near Moses Lake, Washington. When trichloroethylene subsequently appeared in area well water, Boeing denied responsibility for the contamination and also claimed to have lost pertinant records. The area was declared a Superfund site in 1993.

1988 thru 1989 - Seattle issued four separate fines to Boeing for dumping illegally high levels of chromium into the Seattle sewer system.

1989 - $11,000,000 settlement with the USAF over allegations of overcharging for refitting KC-135 tanker aircraft. The USAF claimed that Boeing gave them misleading information which led to overpayment.

1990 - A jury found Boeing 50% liable for toxic waste cleanup in King County, Washington. Witnesses at the trial claimed Boeing had been continually warned, for 25 years, that their toxic dumping was probably illegal, and that they should build their own treatment plant.

1990 - The EPA fines Boeing $42,000 for failing to report five toxic chemical releases.

1992 - The EPA fines Boeing $334,325 for illegal handling of toxic wastes at the Everett, WA plant. This fine, a record amount, was a reduction (at Boeing's request) from the intended fine of $620,475.

1992 - The Justice Department sued Boeing for $11,500,000 for cleanup costs related to contaminated drinking water in Tacoma, WA.

1992 - Seattle fines Boeing $228,000 for releasing 1,392 pounds of chromium into the city's sewer system. Boeing confessed to "inadvertent" discharge, but appealed the fine.

1994 - Boeing settles out of court with the Pentagon for $75,000,000. The settlement covered "overcharges" itemized thusly: $52,000,000 for "computer related work", $14,000,000 for "non-domestic government work", and $9,000,000 for hazardous waste disposal.

1998 - Settlement of $10,000,000 to the U.S. government for violations of arms export control laws.

1998 - The Washington State Department of Ecology fined Boeing $148,000 and ordered the company to "correct its toxic waste problems immediately".

1999 - Payment of $15,000,000 to 19,000 African American employees (then current and former) to settle complaints about biased advancement policies and other racial labor problems. The Department of Labor has accused Boeing of withholding information and interfering with DoL's inquiries.

2000 - The United States Department of Justice sought a $20,000,000 penalty payment from Boeing for improper equipment installation on AH-64A Apache attack helicopters. The fleet of AH-64As has been grounded three times since 1999 due to mechanical problems.

2000 - Boeing Corporation (and Cascade Corporation) are declared liable by a federal judge for contaminating drinking water wells in Portland, Oregon. Portland is claiming $6,600,000 in damages. Payment is pending.

2001 - (case pending) International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, District 751 (the largest labor union at Boeing) files suit, claiming that recent outsourcing of jobs has violated the Boeing/Union contract.

2001 - The State Department fines Boeing $3,800,000 for violations of export laws.

Boeing is the largest exporter in the U.S., the second largest weapons manufacturer, and is Lead Systems Integrator for the National Missile Defense program. Boeing, in addition to its government contracts, was given a $2.2 billion federal subsidy in 1998. That subsidy, combined with the massive incentives being offered by the state of Illinois to move Boeing corporate headquarters to Chicago, makes Boeing Corporation one of the largest proponents of socializing the costs of business while privatizing the profits.

Thanks to Kevin Martin, Tim Nafziger, Jeremy Shenk and Mark Swier for the article "Boeing Corporation" in Z Magazine, vol. 14, no.11. The information above was taken from their article.