Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Michael L. Shelley, PhD


The Superfund, established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, seriously underestimated both the number of severely contaminated sites and the associated cleanup cost. The magnitude of projected cleanup costs, coupled with shrinking federal budgets, necessitated the development and use of risk-based prioritization models among some federal agencies. Among these tools, the DOD prioritization models are meant to give priority to sites posing the greatest threat to human health. Their failure to properly rank sites could incorrectly shift the focus from those that pose substantial risk to sites of lesser risk. The DOD site ranking models addressed in this study are the Relative Risk Evaluation Method (RREM), and its predecessor, the Defense Priority Model (DPM). RREM's site evaluation approach uses a quantitative assessment of contaminants and a qualitative assessment of both pathways and receptors to group sites into a low, medium, or high risk category. The RREM has been criticized as relying too much upon qualitative factors that could, perhaps, create inconsistencies between users of the model. The DPM, not used after 1993, used a combination of quantitative and qualitative approximations to calculate pathway subscores combined to provide an overall site score from 0 to 100. One criticism is that some of DPM's models appear theoretically weak. The problem is that these two DOD approaches for prioritizing sites for remediation have not been validated. The research objective was as an initial validation effort for the RREM and the DPM models by comparing their rankings of a sample of contaminated sites against those of a rigorous, quantitative risk assessment model.

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