An index method for environmental risk assessment in wood processing industry
In the present study, a semiquantitative ranking method for plant-level assessments of environmental risks in wood processing industry was developed and tested. The method can be used in ranking defined processes or equipment in relation to their potential of causing adverse environmental effects. The method comprises submodels for estimating the probability of accidental hazardous material release, the expected quantity of a release, its dispersion in air, surface water or groundwater, and damage functions for calculating the environmental damages. The submodels are compositely linked allowing each submodel to be replaced as the state of the art advances. The method was tested in a wood processing combinate where 34 process units were analyzed, and the result's sensitivity to changes in input parameters as well as the method of aggregating the results was tested. The reliability of the results was examined by comparing the calculated results with critical incidents data collected from the analyzed units and with data on hazardous materials spills to surface or groundwaters reported by the Finnish wood processing industry. The results of the study demonstrated that this new method is applicable to practical risk analyses in wood processing and related industry. The ranking order of the process units supplemented with the additional data collected during the assessment serves as a rational basis for decision making pertaining to environmental risk management programmes in industry. A major drawback in the practical application of the model proved to be the insufficient ecological information available on the parameters that describe the dynamics of processes governing both the behaviour and effects of the materials handled. ...
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