Environmental Risk Analysis of Railroad Transportation of Hazardous Materials

An important aspect of railroad environmental risk management involves tank car transportation of hazardous materials. The consequences from spills of different products varies widely depending on a variety of interacting factors; however, railroads have had a number of incidents in which environmental cleanup expense has cost millions of dollars. To assist the railroad industry in understanding the risk of transporting these products and the effectiveness of various management options, the Association of American Railroads sponsored research to enable estimation of environmental risk. This presentation will describe a quantitative, environmental risk analysis of rail transportation of a group of light, non-aqueous-phase liquid (LNAPL) chemicals commonly transported by rail in North America. The Hazardous Materials Transportation Environmental Consequence Model (HMTECM) was used in conjunction with a geographic information system (GIS) analysis of environmental characteristics to develop probabilistic estimates of exposure to different spill scenarios along the North American rail network. The risk analysis incorporated the estimated clean-up cost developed using the HMTECM, route-specific probability distributions of soil type and depth to groundwater, annual traffic volume, railcar accident rate, and tank car safety features, to estimate the nationwide annual risk of transporting each product. The annual risk per car-mile and per ton-mile was also calculated to enable comparison between chemicals and to provide information on the financial risk associated with shipments of these products. Uses of more damage-resistance alternative tank cars for each chemical were also considered to estimate the possible reduction in risk. The analysis and the methodology to be presented provide a quantitative approach that enables more effective management of the environmental risk of transporting hazardous materials.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 24p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01154632
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-2174
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 11:00AM