Comparative assessment of several multi-criteria decision analysis tools for management of contaminated sediments

I. Linkov, F. K. Satterstrom, B. Yatsalo, A. Tkachuk, G. A. Kiker, J. Kim, T. S. Bridges, T. P. Seager, K. Gardner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


Over the past several decades, environmental decision-making strategies have evolved into increasingly more sophisticated, information-intensive, and complex approaches including expert judgment, cost-benefit analysis, toxicological risk assessment, comparative risk assessment, and a number of methods for incorporating public and stakeholder values. This evolution has led to an improved array of decision-making aids, including the development of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) tools that offer a scientifically sound decision analytical framework. The existence of different MCDA methods and the availability of corresponding software contribute to the possibility of practical implementation of these methods. However, even though a great deal of work has been done in justifying the theoretical foundation of these methods, real-life applications are rare. The critical attitudes of different MCDA schools toward alternative approaches may have been an obstacle in the application of MCDA. Additionally, no MCDA method is theoretically appropriate for group decision processes, and all MCDA methods and tools necessarily use significant simplifications and assumptions to rank environmental policy alternatives. Nevertheless, this paper illustrates the application of three different MCDA methods in two case studies involving management of contaminated sediments. These case studies are based on real sediment management problems experienced by the US Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders in the New York/New Jersey Harbor and the Cocheco Superfund Site in New Hampshire. Our analysis shows that application of three different MCDA tools points to similar management solutions, no matter which tool is applied. MCDA tools and approaches were constructively used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each method when solving the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Security in Harbors and Coastal Areas
Subtitle of host publicationManagement Using Comparative Risk Assessment and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)1402058004, 9781402058004
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNATO Security through Science Series C: Environmental Security
ISSN (Print)1871-4668

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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