Title: Consequence modelling of the population risk exposure resulting from airborne toxic material released from rail cars within Toronto, Ontario

Authors: Steve A. Thompson

Addresses: Infrastructure Protection and International Security Program, Carleton University, Room #1416 Dunton Tower, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, K1S 5B6, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: Rail transportation is commonly used to move toxic-by-inhalation chemicals throughout Canada, passing in close proximity to urban areas. These trains are vulnerable to accidents, sabotage and terrorism, with each scenario resulting in formidable consequences for nearby residents. Modelling of the airborne concentration distribution of chlorine gas released from a railcar in Toronto reveals that in a 'worst case' scenario, approximately 261,590 residents would be expected to experience severely irreversible and life-threatening health effects, including death. An event of this magnitude, stemming from a 10 cm diameter puncture hole in the side of the railcar - accidentally or intentionally caused - would cripple the response capacity of nearby hospitals, and unleash a cascading series of effects. Further, models of anhydrous ammonia and chlorine releases reveal that weather conditions and the incident timing can lead to multiple populations being affected, while the chemical characteristics play an important mitigation role in population risk exposure.

Keywords: toxic hazards; inhalation hazards; toxic-by-inhalation; airborne chemicals; air pollution; dangerous goods; consequence modelling; Aerial Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres; ALOHA; Canada; rail transport; railways; exposure risk; security; critical infrastructures; population exposure; trains; chlorine gas; health effects; health hazards; anhydrous ammonia; accidents; sabotage; terrorism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCIS.2015.072150

International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, 2015 Vol.11 No.3, pp.243 - 264

Received: 29 Jun 2013
Accepted: 25 Nov 2013

Published online: 02 Oct 2015 *

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