Risk as a criterion for determining environmental policy priorities
Environmental risk issues comprise a particular subset of this research with specific additional problems resulting mainly from the amount of uncertainty that usually surrounds environmental risk issues. This uncertainty has fuelled public scepticism about experts ability to make accurate assessments and it has proved very difficult to set publicly acceptable levels for environmental risk. Environmental risk issues often carry a very high public profile. Belated discoveries of considerable health risks such as those posed by abandoned hazardous waste sites, long-term low level radiation exposure and water and air pollution have caused the United States Environmental Protection Agency(USEPA) major problems. The Love Canal site near Buffalo, New York, provided a public mandate for the establishment of the Superfund and also initiated a number of other legislative procedures designed to ensure that responsibility for dump sites can be established and that companies and owners can be held accountable. Problems with the management of the Superfund and further examination of the hazardous waste disposal question have shown that there are very many more sites requiring some attention in the United States than was envisaged. The realisation that there was likely to be a shortfall in the funds available for clean up along with concern that there was a discrepancy between agency expenditure on different polices and the degree of risk posed initiated a move towards the use of risk management as a decision making tool. It had become obvious that faulty or poorly managed hazardous waste dumps pose a significant environmental hazard in the United States. The risks involved may actually be considerably less that other environmental risks faced by communities. The question then became how to establish a process for strategic action and the need to set priorities for dealing with environmental hazards.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsrisk assessment; risk management; environmental policy; decision making; United States Environmental Protection Agency; Unfinished Business report; United States; hazardous waste
Copyright © Centre for Resource Management.