Role of Risk Assessment in Environmental Security Planning and Decision-Making

  • R. J. Wenning
  • S. Della Sala
  • V. Magar
Part of the NATO Security through Science Series book series (NASTC)


This chapter explores the role of risk assessment in environmental security planning and decision-making at commercial shipping ports and harbors. Environmental risk assessment is a discipline that has matured over the past nearly 50 years, evolving from assessment of chemical exposures on human health and wildlife to comparative analysis of the net risks and benefits to the environment associated with the implementation of different remedy alternatives at contaminated land and sediment sites. In recent years, partly due to the events of 11 September 2001, escalating tensions in poor and under-developed countries, and increasing scarcity of natural resources, several countries and international organizations have raised concerns about environmental security. For commercial and industrial shipping ports, which are often located in heavily populated urban areas and sensitive coastal environments in both developed and developing countries, the application of risk assessment methods is an important first step towards protecting critical industrial, environmental and utility infrastructure and understanding environmental response and prevention requirements and capabilities. In the context of environmental risk assessment, there are at least three security challenges that must be overcome. First, quantitative prediction is needed, with a high degree of confidence, of the range of possible damages and potential threats posed to both human health and the environment. The nature of this work itself poses a security challenge because of the potential sensitivity of the information that must be compiled and evaluated. Second, the information and risk predictions generated by environmental risk assessment to describe the outcome of different possible disaster events and environmental scenarios must be realistic and plausible. And, third, the results of an environmental risk analysis must inform decision-makers of different disaster prevention/response action plans, their associated capital investments, and net impact on risk. Ultimately, the risk assessment process can provide port authorities and local or national government authorities the appropriate tools to prioritize prevention/response actions must be to minimize or prevent scenarios most likely to adversely impact the environment, cause injuries or fatalities to port workers and residents in surrounding communities, and result in short or long-term economic impacts.


Risk Assessment Environmental Risk Assessment Critical Infrastructure International Maritime Organization Environmental Security 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Wenning
    • 1
  • S. Della Sala
    • 2
  • V. Magar
    • 3
  1. 1.ENVIRON International CorporationEmeryvilleUSA
  2. 2.Autorita Portuale di Venezia (Venice Port Authority)VeniceItaly
  3. 3.ENVIRON International CorporationChicagoUSA

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