Models for Aiding Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Decisions

Seymour I. Schwartz
Robert A. McBride
Robert L. Powell

DOI: 10.2190/XQ8C-AK8T-EYK6-YHR5


Proposals for locating hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities typically encounter strong opposition from the affected communities. Technical analysis can examine the risks from alternative siting strategies, thereby aiding the political process by which the decision is made. This article presents models for calculating the health effects from accidents in transporting hazardous waste to treatment facilities, and from accidents at an incinerator facility. Starting with an ideal-type model, we introduce simplifications that make the analytical task easier, while providing answers to questions about the comparative risks from locating facilities in urban versus rural locations. An illustrative calculation for siting incinerators in the Los Angeles area indicates that the expected number of people exposed to the Environmental Protection Agency's "short-term exposure limit" is larger for urban sites than rural sites, because the transportation risks are comparable and the facility risks are much larger for the urban site. The expected value numbers are quite small, because of the low probability of accidents, but if an accident occurs in the urban area, hundreds of people could be exposed to the short-term exposure limit.

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