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Linking Ecological Risk Assessment and Economic Benefits: a Case Study of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Superfund Risk Assessment

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In November 2004, EPA issued a draft document entitled “NCEE Draft Ecological Benefits Assessment Strategy” (SAB Review version, November 11, 2004). That document outlines a series of action items to advance ecological benefits assessment within the EPA regulatory context. This report responds to particular actions identified in that report, specifically:
The efforts presented in this report will help develop ways to use available risk assessment techniques to describe impacts on ecosystems in terms that can be understood by decision makers and are useful for economic valuation.
This report builds upon the findings from Linking Ecological Risk Assessment and Economic Benefits, an earlier report on this topic (Abt Associates Inc., 2005). In that report, Abt reviewed ecological risk assessment techniques used by U.S. EPA and other government agencies, discussed the availability of literature on economic valuation that could be applied to the types of endpoints evaluated by each risk model, and conducted several ecological benefits assessment exercises based on published ecological risk studies.
In the current report, Abt conducts a more extensive economic evaluation of the results of one of the case studies from our previous report: the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Superfund risk assessment (Johnston et al., 2002; U.S. Navy, 2000). They provide an overview of the ecological results of this risk assessment in Section 2 of this report. Then, in Section 3, Abt discusses the relationship between the ecological measures evaluated in the Naval Shipyard risk assessment and ecological services with economic value, identifies challenges associated with trying to quantify that relationship, and then presents the results of a valuation exercise that demonstrates how changes in ecological measures from the risk assessment can be used to predict changes in social welfare. Finally, in Section 4, they discuss future research needs and suggest steps that might contribute to a more unified approach to benefits analysis of ecological risks.

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Date Linked: 05/28/2009

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