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Regional Economic Impacts of Environmental Management of Radiological Hazards: An Initial Analysis of a Complex Problem

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We conducted an economic analysis of four different billion-plus dollar technological options for managing the salt wastes in the high-level waste tanks at the Savannah River nuclear weapons site (SRS) in South Carolina, USA. While US Department of Energy leadership is appropriately most concerned with health, safety and the environment, the economic implications of the choice cannot be dismissed. Combinations of technologies, where the technology is to be designed and tested, and who pays for it, were considered. With the caveat that the engineering designs are not the final versions and are therefore subject to change, we found that the most expensive technologies to design and build may not produce the most jobs or the greatest gross regional product in the SRS region because a great deal of the design and engineering from prototype to testing will not be done in the host region. Furthermore, in terms of the local economic impacts in the SRS region, this analysis shows that the policy choice regarding the method of funding the project (which budget the money comes from) matters as much as the selection of the remediation technology.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: May 1, 2001

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