Risk management may be defined as:
Evaluating alternative actions and selecting among them. This entails consideration of political, social, economic, and engineering information with risk-related information to develop, analyse, and compare options and to select the appropriate response to a potential hazard. The selection process necessarily requires the use of value judgments on such issues as the acceptability of risk and the reasonableness of the costs of risk reduction.
In the contaminated land field, risk assessment provides information to decision makers as to the consequences of possible actions. Important decisions that use risk estimates include waste treatment/disposal options, remediating contaminated sites, minimising waste generation, siting new facilities, and developing new products. It should be emphasised that risk estimates are only one type of information used, and contaminated land decisions are often driven by political, social, and economic or other factors.
Another application of risk management in site remediation is the establishment of cleanup standards. The process starts with a numerical definition of acceptable risk and works back to the level of contamination that will produce the acceptable risk level. Thus, environmentally sound legislation concerning pollution and sustainability as well as pressure on the land resources that are available in the UK has led to a growing industry in site remediation. The aims of this industry are to reduce the risk to humans and the environment that a contaminated site poses, such that it is deemed safe to be used for a number of defined purposes. There are various remedial techniques and methods available to a contaminated land developer.