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BIOSOLIDS OXIDATION: RISK, PUBLIC POLICY, AND PERCEPTION

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Abstract:

Since the dawn of time, mankind has searched for safe and cost-effective management options for the disposal and/or reuse of their biosolids (sewage sludge). This paper sets forth a call to action to evaluate various biosolids disposal/reuse processes from a very broad perspective before selecting/implementing an option. It asks a question whether we are examining the correct criteria, and subsequently using our investigations to support the decision-making process.

Armed with suitable evaluations of alternatives, elected officials are empowered to make wise policy decisions. As mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, we are at-home with detail, minutiae, and the micro-view. We must include the political aspects that allow us to communicate and support a macro-view. Most risk controversies, moreover, are not about science, but principally values and interests. They are not physical science, but social science questions to be solved and answered. We must learn how to bring those concepts to bear in our thinking and responses.

It also simple to surmise that the more difficult, controversial, or expensive that a significant biosolids decision may be, the more difficult it will be to take the long view. If the controversy contains any of the elements of risk that our populace has been enlightened or sensitized to, then the task can appear insurmountable.

When our policy makers can combine the long-term perspectives, feelings, and needs of a community with and a long-term view of the alternative biosolids options, risks, and rewards, enlightened decision-making is possible!

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864702785302401

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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