By Patrick Humphreys
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Extra resources for Analyzing and Aiding Decision Processes, 14
From the point of view of formal risk assessments, the lirst round of the California siting process was the most interesting. To support its applications t o the Federal Power Commission, Western was required t o submit an analysis of the safety of the facilities and their operations. For this purpose, it contracted with a consulting firm (Science Applications, lnc. /SAI/). As required by State Law, the local governments involved were required to submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR); of most interest to us here was the Oxnard study which was also submitted by a consulting firm (Socio-Economic Systems /SES/).
Many individuals might feel that more funds should be expended to eliminate an identifiable risk (1,0, . . ,0) than a statistical risk (l/n, l/n, . . , l/n). It follows that the preference for risk equity and the risk prone utility function for fatalities are appropriate, given the basic model assumptions. , 1977), one finds that the undesirability of various risks as perceived by the public seems t o be dependent on many factors. Such factors include whether the risks are voluntary or involuntary, whether they are associated with catastrophic accidents or not, and whether the risks result in immediate or delayed fatalities.
While those models were impressive, by neglecting to acknowledge the existence of experts and models with conflicting results, the SAI report over-stated the confidence with which their results should be accepted. The FPC report considered only one type of accident: ship accidents at the end of the trestle. There were reasons for believing that other accidents would not add significantly to the risk. However, because the staff did not carry out calculations to prove that contention, that important narrowing of the problem is defended only by the analysts’judgment.