Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Hazardous chemicals transported by rail pass directly through urban cities and pose a safety and health threat to the community. Some of these chemicals can be in large quantities, extremely toxic, devastating to the environment and have the potential to cause mass casualties and death. Thousands of people could be in harm’s way. While there is always the possibility for accidental chemical release, they also have the potential to be used in acts of sabotage and terrorism. Evaluation of the rail line in Montgomery County, Ohio using standards in the 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook using geographic information systems (GIS) at designated evacuation distances showed that many people, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and public venues are at risk in the event of a chemical release. Using GIS for modeling can help emergency management better coordinate evacuation and shelter in place procedures with the public, plan evacuation routes, and decrease the morbidity and mortality of the exposed. The data collected, by use of GIS, can help give a more inclusive picture of those impacted by a train tanker toxic chemical release and provide evidence for policy review.