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Adaptive Management: A Paradigm for Remediation of Public Facilities Following a Terrorist Attack

Authors


*Address correspondence to Jeffrey J. Whicker, Mail Stop 6761, Los Alamos, NM, USA, 87545; tel: 505-667-2610; jjwhicker@lanl.gov.

Abstract

Terrorist actions are aimed at maximizing harm (health, psychological, economical, and political) through the combined physical impacts of the act and fear. Immediate and effective response to a terrorist act is critical to limit human and environmental harm, effectively restore facility function, and maintain public confidence. Though there have been terrorist attacks in public facilities that we have learned from, overall our experiences in restoration of public facilities following a terrorist attack are limited. Restoration of public facilities following a release of a hazardous material is inherently far more complex than in industrial settings and has many unique technical, economic, social, and political challenges. For example, there may be a great need to quickly restore the facility to full operation and allow public access even though it was not designed for easy or rapid restoration, and critical information is needed for quantitative risk assessment and effective restoration must be anticipated to be incomplete and uncertain. Whereas present planning documents have substantial linearity in their organization, the “adaptive management” paradigm provides a constructive parallel paradigm for restoration of public facilities that anticipates and plans for uncertainty, inefficiencies, and stakeholder participation. Adaptive management grew out of the need to manage and restore natural resources in highly complex and changing environments with limited knowledge about causal relationships and responses to restoration actions. Similarities between natural resource management and restoration of a public facility after a terrorist attack suggest that integration of adaptive management principles explicitly into restoration processes will result in substantially enhanced and flexible responses necessary to meet the uncertainties of potential terrorist attacks.

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