The goals of this project are to provide (1) the first primarily ethical assessment of competing waste treatment technologies and (2) a model for introducing consideration of issues of distributive justice and consent to risk into contexts involving technology assessment. The project will compare fixed (continuous) and transportable or mobile (batch) technologies for treatment of hazardous wastes being generated as part of the ongoing waste stream, so as to isolate the effects of mobility on the distribution of benefits and burdens. The principal investigator, a philosopher specializing in issues of justice and public policy, will collaborate with engineers, political scientists, and experts on regulatory policy and community concerns. The ethical comparison of standard and alternative treatment technologies will draw on the philosophical literatures concerning distributive justice and consent to risk. It will also require a review of the extensive empirical literature, based on case studies, surveys, and interviews, of efforts to site standard treatment facilities. This literature also includes discussion of the perception of risks and community sensitivity to distribution issues. The team's members will guide the principal investigator through relevant surveys of commercially available transportable treatment units (TTUs), and of regulations that affect them, and assist him in the review and analysis of relevant technical and regulatory documents. Results will include articles aimed at the audience interested in philosophy and public policy, and co-authored articles, aimed at specialized technical audiences of engineers, and corporate and regulatory officials, as well as at community organizations and environmental groups concerned with siting issues. The project will make a significant contribution to incorporating ethical considerations into the assessment and regulation of new technologies. The principal investigator and other members of the research team are very well qualified; this is exactly the kind of collaborative research effort EVS intends to foster. Institutional support is excellent. The research design is good; tasks are appropriately allocated and results are targeted to important audiences. Total support in the amount of $114,566 is recommended.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Rachelle D. Hollander
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Tufts University
United States
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