Assessing the Impact of Hazardous Waste Facilities: Psychology, Politics, and Environmental Impact Statements
Living near a hazardous waste disposal facility is a prospect few people readily welcome. Yet hazardous wastes such as radioactives, flammables, asbestos, and acids are being manufactured at a rate that far exceeds the capacity of existing storage and disposal facilities. Environmental impact statements usually measure aspects of the physical environment, but rarely do they examine the psychological impact proposed changes may have on people who live in the environment. This chapter deals with issues related to environmental hazards by presenting the methodology and findings of psychological assessment. It discusses the site selection, initial planning, and survey development and objectives for a hazardous waste disposal site by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The long-term psychological impact of living near hazardous waste facilities is not known. Those residents who perceived the risk as too great will likely move away; but others with similar perceptions may remain because of economic necessity or family ties.