Summary of issues and problems in inferring a level of acceptable risk

by Steven L. Salem, Kenneth A. Solomon

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Summarizes findings reported in R-2530, a study attempting to determine acceptable levels for risk incurred in innovative technologies, and to establish guidelines for risk management. No methodology currently exists for combining historical, technical, social, and economic factors to create a single risk component. Nor can regulatory bodies agree on risk-reduction goals. It is thus essential that risk managers at all government levels be conscious of the need to specify their goals and understand the relationship of these goals to those of other agencies and to energy alternatives in question. This awareness can be achieved if agency managers examine their goals in view of their agencies' histories of regulatory decisions and their decisionmaking processes. They must strike a balance with goals of other agencies regulating the same technologies; all regulations must be compatible. Goals must reflect understanding of long-term priorities and the interfacing of industry, population and regulatory agencies.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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