Title: Using decision paths to explore three environmental cleanup decisions: a cross-case analysis

Authors: Christina H. Drew, Timothy L. Nyerges, Kieran McCarthy, John A. Moore

Addresses: Department of Geography, University of Washington, Box 353550, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Department of Geography, University of Washington, Box 353550, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. US General Accounting Office, 441 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20548, USA. Sciences International, 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 500, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA

Abstract: Transparent decisions are widely sought by parties interested in and affected by cleanup activities at government-owned facilities. In an approach to transparency, this paper uses decision paths and timelines to compare three decisions at the US Department of Energy Hanford site. A regulatory decision strategy, consisting of seven sequential (linear) steps, is used as the basis for the analysis. We find that the decision path is different for each case, although the timeframe associated with the main steps is similar. Also, although decision steps are evident in each case study, the decision process unfolds in cycles rather than following the linear path typically described to stakeholders. Finally, we observe a stronger emphasis on the information-gathering step than on other steps in the decision process. These findings suggest that new ways of representing decision situations are needed if transparency is to be achieved.

Keywords: analytic-deliberative process; environmental cleanup; public involvement; risk; transparent decision-making.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2002.000665

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2002 Vol.17 No.3, pp.171-202

Available online: 09 Jul 2003

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