Assessment of hazardous material risks for rail yard safety
This paper illustrates the application of quantitative risk assessment in a rail yard where tank cars of hazardous materials are received and stored. The assessment was conducted in response to community concerns about the safety of a proposed yard expansion. Six different chemicals are involved. For each one, the average monthly volume and the hazard of most concern are specified. We use an event tree populated with empirical data to compute the probability of a major spill in each case and we estimate the corresponding critical impact distances using available modeling tools. We find that for some of the chemicals, the relative increases in risk are appreciable, but that in all cases, the absolute levels of risk remain low. Then we identify some ways in which such an analysis can be extended and discuss the potential difficulties associated with these extensions.