Coupling Public Participation and Expert Judgment for Assessment of Innovative Contaminated Sediment Technologies


This project investigates the utility of Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) as a tool for testing stakeholder responses to and improving expert assessment of innovative contaminated sediments technologies. Within the broader context of environmental decision-making theory, this case study focuses on a planned dredging project in Dover, New Hampshire where sediments containing PAHs and heavy metals will be removed from 2.7 miles of the Cocheco River (a navigable estuary). Faced with limited alternatives for dredged material disposal, local officials decided to place the contaminated materials in a sealed and lined disposal cell in a riparian area. However, the decision process employed (process of elimination) may have been severely taxed by innovative technological alternatives. To assess the feasibility of innovative technologies in this case, a group of stakeholders with a vested interest in the materials management decision were queried about the basic criteria they would apply to assessing decision alternatives, experts at the Center for Contaminated Sediments Research (CCSR) at the University of New Hampshire provided performance estimates related to those criteria, and an MCDA outranking study identified those stakeholder groups likely be in conflict or willing to reach consensus. Of the three innovative technologies tested, one was found to be unsuitable for this site while two others were likely to have support from different stakeholder groups. Those groups with strongly held views were modeled with the greatest confidence while groups with less strongly expressed preferences may be satisfied by more than one alternative and have a greater willingness to compromise.


Civil Engineering

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Journal Title

Environmental Security and Environmental Management: Role of Risk Assessment



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Book Chapter


© 2006 Springer. Printed in the Netherlands.