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Ecological Risk Assessment Step 8

The final step in the Ecological Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund (ERAGS) 8-step process is Risk Management. This is the stage where decisions are made about what remedial (clean-up) actions should be taken. Nine criteria must be taken into consideration when making these decisions.

Threshold Criteria - take precedence over other categories
  • Overall protection of human health and the environment;
  • Compliance with applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs) - ARARs are such things as cleanup levels mandated by state agencies, compliance with laws such as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, or Clean Air Act;
Balancing Criteria
  • Long-term effectiveness and permanence - will the results of the remedial action last over the long-term;
  • Reduction of toxicity, mobility, or volume of hazardous wastes through the use of treatment - will the cleanup activity actually work at reducing the amount or toxic effects of the contaminants;
  • Short-term effectiveness - what are the effects during the treatment/cleanup; what is the potential for additional releases of toxins into the environment;
  • Implementability - is it practical to do the particular cleanup remedy;
  • Cost - is the remedy cost-effective, especially compared to other remedial choices;
Modifying Criteria
  • State acceptance - do the state agencies accept the remedy;
  • Community acceptance - is the public willing to go along with the remedial action.


Different remedies may be suggested at this stage, such as removal of contaminated media (soil, sediment), water treatment plants, capping of contaminated areas with clean materials, on-site incineration of contaminated media, bioremediation (in which organisms such as bacteria break down the contaminants), or monitored natural attenuation (MNA). MNA is where the site is simply left alone and monitored over time, allowing the contaminants either to wash away, break down, or otherwise disappear from the site without any active remediation.

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