A framework is developed for evaluating the impacts, costs, benefits, and techniques for mitigating groundwater contamination. The framework is a generalized cost‐benefit analysis. Contamination of the Cohansey aquifer in New Jersey is the subject of an illustrative case study. The plume of contamination is modeled and potential health impacts are projected based on dose‐response information available from the Environmental Protection Agency. The economic value of such damages is estimated using alternative mortality risk values that span those found in the recent literature. Costs for controlling the contamination from the site are estimated for alternative levels of control and techniques of control adapting information from the Environmental Protection Agency and other sources. While both the benefits and cost estimates should be mainly viewed as the result of illustrating a method and not as accurate estimates, they do suggest that in a case like the Cohansey, both potential damages (or damages averted, i.e., benefits) and the cost of containment once contamination has occurred can be quite high. Prevention in such cases appears to be the best cure. The paper closes with a discussion of the potential role of economic incentives in the generation of hazardous wastes and their “safe” disposal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology