Spatial Analysis of Safety and Security Vulnerability During Transport of Hazardous Materials
Hundreds of thousands of hazardous materials shipments are made every day in the U.S., utilizing a freight network comprised of multiple modes. These shipments are often transporting dangerous cargo in large volumes which pose significant health and environmental risks. Past incidents involving these materials have caused severe consequences in the form of human casualties, environmental damage, community disruption, economic loss and damaged reputation.
There are two primary concerns influencing the ability of these movements to complete trips without incident: safety and security. Safety incidents are viewed as accidental in nature, whereas security incidents are considered the result of a purposeful act. The incident likelihood and consequences associated with each of these concerns are governed by different factors.
In making shipment decisions, carriers desire to select routes that are both safe and secure. However, often attempts to select a safe and secure routing option present conflicting objectives. For example, a route with a low accident potential may be located in close proximity to a national iconic structure that would make the detonation of a hazardous material very attractive. The challenge, therefore, is to identify those hazardous materials routes that are desirable when taking both safety and security into consideration.
The purpose of this research is to develop a single, integrated method for assessing both hazardous materials transport safety and security at the network segment level such that the most desirable routing options can be identified. This technique will subsequently be applied using geographic information systems (GIS) data and technology to create network maps which show preferred hazmat transportation routes based on minimizing combined safety and security risk. The application area will be comprised of all states located in the Southeast region, and will include representation of all surface freight modes (truck, rail, marine).
In developing and applying this method, an enhanced capability will be available from which to mitigate the risks associated with hazardous materials transport. This will represent a significant contribution to both the state-of-the-art and industry practice, and can serve as a foundation from which more comprehensive transportation planning can evolve.
This project is being funded by the Southeastern Transportation Center. Mark Abkowitz and James Dobbins are co-principal investigators.