Ecological risk assessment at the department of energy: An evolving process

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The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has facilities in 34 states, and many of these have chemical or radiological contamination that provides a potential risk to human or ecological health. Over the next few decades many of these sites will be cleaned up, and ecological risk assessment will be one tool used to make decisions about remediation and future land use. The DOE has developed an overall strategy for making remediation decisions that involves using risk assessment, with stakeholder input, although the final decisions are the Department's. The key elements of its ecological risk assessments involve valuing the severity and likelihood of occurrence of adverse ecological effects. It is currently using a process that incorporates descriptions of the environmental risk, and valuations of the severity and likelihood of an adverse outcome before, during, and after any remedial activity. The primary difficulty with the current DOE approach to risk has been a failure to use existing information to identify either species of concern or unique habitats at risk, and a lack of uniformity across the DOE complex. Nonetheless, the inclusion of ecological risk assessment in the decision-making process will help achieve one of the new missions of DOE: the protection and maintenance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems at sites under its control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology


  • DOE
  • Decision-Making
  • Ecological Risk Assessment
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Remediation
  • Risk Data Sheet (RDS)
  • Stakeholders


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