Environmental Protection, Resource Allocation and CERCLA: A Practitioners Perspective

by Richard B. Weiss, Weiss Associates, Emeryville, United States,
Marvin Feldman, Weiss Associates, Emeryville, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Environmental Engineering

Abstract: In accepting Superfund's mandate of protection of human health and the environment in a timely manner, critics often overlook, the limited human, technical and material resources available for site characterization and cleanup, nor do they weigh relative costs against the expected environmental benefits. Adequately addressing these issues takes not only funding, but expertise, time, and appropriate resource allocation. As noted in the 1989 Senate subcommittee report, progress has been made since inception, although there are some additional areas where CERCLA implementation, in practice, misses the mark. In theory, CERCLA regulations identify the most potentially hazardous sites and guide selection of effective risk reduction alternatives. In practice, the EPA Hazard Ranking System often identifies less hazardous sites while passing over sites posing greater risk. Moreover, remediation methods required for site cleanup may not be most beneficial in balancing risk reduction with costs to industry and society. Prescribed investigation and remediation protocols may also lead to inefficient allocation of scare human and natural resources. Representative examples of potential cost savings are discussed for several case histories. In addition, a social cost-benefit framework is proposed which could lead to better allocation of national resources.

Subject Headings: Occupational safety | Environmental issues | Hazardous materials | Resource management | Risk management | Waste sites | Remediation

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