Managing Exposure to Pipeline’s Risks: Improving Brazil’s Risk-Based Regulatory Process
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Traditional risk-based decision-making processes have limitations that often compromise the management of technological hazards. The research is organized into three major components. Firstly, it investigates concepts and thinking outside the literature on risk regulation that offer opportunities to improve risk-based processes, such as governance and risk governance, environmental and social justice, vulnerability, resilience, complex systems, ethics, and the precautionary principle. Secondly, identified opportunities to improve risk-based approaches are assessed in the context of the Brazilian environmental licensing process for gas and oil transmission pipelines. The Brazilian case study is explored through interviews and surveys with thirty-two key stakeholders, aimed at describing and understanding the situation. Finally, it is discussed how the implications of the proposed conceptual framework and findings from the case study contribute to the theoretical perspectives on technological risk regulation. The research advocates that (1) regulatory processes for technological hazards need to effectively incorporate ‘human systems’ into their routines as a way to become more holistic; (2) decision-making processes need to strengthen the transition from assessment of risks to management of exposure; (3) regulators need to shift focus to the management of exposure as opposed to the current facility-centered management of risks; (4) this transition is facilitated if the regulatory process has an independent routine for management; and (5) a resilience plan, encompassing components from risk management and land-use planning, articulates the interaction between people and hazardous facilities, that share a common space, towards better practices to effectively manage exposure to risks. Considering these five points, the research suggests an adaptation of the Risk Governance Model for the regulation of hazardous linear installations.