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Title: Environmental Risk Evaluation System – An Approach to Ranking Risk of Ocean Energy Development on Coastal and Estuarine Environments

Deployment and operation of ocean energy devices does not represent the first foray into industrialization of the oceans; shipping, nearshore development, waste disposal, subsea mining, oil and gas extraction, and large-scale commercial fishing all coexist in various states of equilibrium with the marine environment. In most cases these industries were developed without a clear understanding of the likely outcomes of large-scale development. In virtually every country where the harvest of ocean energy is emerging, regulators and stakeholders require that the industry examine potential effects of devices, minimize the footprint of effects, and provide management measures that either avoid the impacts or mitigate to further reduce the residual impacts. The ERES analysis is based on scenarios that are consistent with sequences of events that lead to adverse impacts, distinguishing between episodic, intermittent, and chronic risks. In the context of ocean energy development, an episodic scenario might involve the exceedingly rare but potentially devastating event of an oil spill from vessels caused by the presence of the device, while vulnerable receptors are present; understanding the risk of such a scenario involves determining the probability of the occurrence by examining factors such as the petroleum content of ocean energy devices, the vessel trafficmore » volume and the proximity of shipping lanes to the ocean energy devices, the reliability of the control measures to avoid an episodic event, and the likely presence of seabirds, marine mammals, or fish that may be affected by oil. In contrast, chronic risk scenarios involve events or circumstances that are continuous, so that risk characterization involves assessing only the severity of the consequences. An example of a chronic risk scenario might be the toxicity to marine organisms due to low-level chemical releases from anti-biofouling paints and coatings that may be used on devices, and the effect that the level of toxicity may have on marine flora and fauna. Between these two extremes are intermittent events, such as encounters between fish and rotating tidal turbine blades that will occur only when fish are present and the tidal device is turning. A key feature of understanding risk is describing the uncertainty associated with the occurrence of an episodic, intermittent, or chronic event, as well as the uncertainty of the resulting consequences.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Estuaries and Coasts, 38(1):S287-S302
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
ocean energy; risk assessment