A framework for net environmental benefit analysis for remediation or restoration of contaminated sites

Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6036, USA.
Environmental Management (Impact Factor: 1.65). 10/2004; 34(3):315-31. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-004-0089-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Net environmental benefits are gains in value of environmental services or other ecological properties attained by remediation or ecological restoration minus the value of adverse environmental effects caused by those actions. Net environmental benefit analysis (NEBA) is a methodology for comparing and ranking net environmental benefits associated with multiple management alternatives. A NEBA for chemically contaminated sites typically involves comparison of several management alternatives: (1) leaving contamination in place; (2) physically, chemically, or biologically remediating the site through traditional means; (3) improving ecological value through onsite and offsite restoration alternatives that do not directly focus on removal of chemical contamination; or (4) a combination of those alternatives. NEBA involves activities that are common to remedial alternatives analysis for state regulations and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, post-closure and corrective action permits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, evaluation of generic types of response actions pertinent to the Oil Pollution Act, and land management actions that are negotiated with regulatory agencies in flexible regulatory environments (i.e., valuing environmental services or other ecological properties, assessing adverse impacts, and evaluating remediation or restoration options). This article presents a high-level framework for NEBA at contaminated sites with subframeworks for natural attenuation (the contaminated reference state), remediation, and ecological restoration alternatives. Primary information gaps related to NEBA include nonmonetary valuation methods, exposure-response models for all stressors, the temporal dynamics of ecological recovery, and optimal strategies for ecological restoration.

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