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A Route-Specific System for Risk Assessment of Radioactive Materials Transportation Accidents

John E. Moore, Gary M. Sandquist, David M. Slaughter

Nuclear Technology

Volume 112 / Number 1 / October 1995 / Pages 63-78


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A low-cost, powerful geographic information system (GIS) that operates on a personal computer was integrated into a software system to provide route specific assessment of the risks associated with the atmospheric release of radioactive and hazardous materials in transportation accidents. The highway transportation risk assessment (HITRA) software system described here combines a commercially available GIS (TransCAD) with appropriate models and data files for route- and accident-specific factors, such as meteorology, dispersion, demography, and health effects to permit detailed analysis of transportation risk assessment. The HITRA system allows a user to interactively select a highway or railroad route from a GIS database of major U.S. transportation routes. A route-specific risk assessment is then performed to estimate downwind release concentrations and the resulting potential health effects imposed on the exposed population under local environmental and temporal conditions. The integration of GIS technology with current risk assessment methodology permits detailed analysis coupled with enhanced user interaction. Furthermore, HITRA provides flexibility and documentation for route planning, updating and improving the databases required for evaluating specific transportation routes, changing meteorological and environmental conditions, and local demographics.

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