Environmental Performance Assessment: A Case Study of an Emerging Methodology

Charles R. Malone

DOI: 10.2190/WW4P-RF3X-QQV9-BLW3


The emerging methodology of environmental performance assessment offers a potential means by which the future consequences of new technologies can be evaluated. A pilot effort to create a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, however, has yet to adequately address biological and societal components of the environment that will evolve at the site following closure and abandonment of a repository. The nonphysical components of environmental systems cannot be ignored in performance assessment studies and are likely to be no more recalcitrant to analysis than physical components such as the geologic and hydrologie characteristics of a site. If environmental performance assessment is to contribute to understanding the risks and uncertainties associated with technologies like nuclear waste disposal, the methodology must address all components of environmental systems in a comprehensive and integrated manner. A methodology that recognizes only physical factors stands little chance of predicting the future outcome of actions that will affect the environment for thousands of years.

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