Risk analysis for hazardous materials transportation using geographic information system

Anil Kumar Chagari, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Yucca Mountain, Nevada is being evaluated as a potential repository site for storing high level radioactive materials. The material will be transported by highway or rail to the repository from nuclear reactors and other federal sites located throughout the United States. The selection and design of these transport routes involve consideration of the potential risks and impacts associated with the transportation process; The purpose of this research is to perform a risk analysis for the transportation of hazardous materials using Geographic Information System technology. Alternative highway routes between Wendover and Yucca Mountain were identified and evaluated for specified objective functions to estimate the risks associated with the transportation of hazardous materials. The specified objective functions used population exposure as an indicator of risk. A comparative risk analysis is performed based on the estimated risk values using GIS technology routes; The U.S. Census Bureau's population data were used for the analysis presented in this research. Data were obtained in the form of TIGER coverages at a block level for the state of Nevada. The data were then synthesized at the tract, county, and state level. These aggregated data were used to perform a sensitivity analysis. This analysis was conducted using two potential highway access routes within Nevada for case studies; For each case study, a corridor width was developed along the highway route by using specific buffer distances. The buffer distances ranged from 0.5 to 20 miles. Each buffer width represents a potential critical corridor width for potential accident scenarios involving the transport of hazardous materials. An urban population index (UPI) was developed to help identify the required level of disaggregation of population data (block/tract/county); Population can be estimated by a number of methods which use using GIS technology. Commonly used methods are corridor width method, Thiessen polygon method, Grid based method and Census polygon method. In this thesis, population is estimated using Corridor width method. ARC/INFO software on a UNIX platform was extensively used to carry out the analysis.