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A New Approach to Hazardous Materials Transportation Risk Analysis: Decision Modeling to Identify Critical Variables

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We take a novel approach to analyzing hazardous materials transportation risk in this research. Previous studies analyzed this risk from an operations research (OR) or quantitative risk assessment (QRA) perspective by minimizing or calculating risk along a transport route. Further, even though the majority of incidents occur when containers are unloaded, the research has not focused on transportation-related activities, including container loading and unloading. In this work, we developed a decision model of a hazardous materials release during unloading using actual data and an exploratory data modeling approach. Previous studies have had a theoretical perspective in terms of identifying and advancing the key variables related to this risk, and there has not been a focus on probability and statistics-based approaches for doing this. Our decision model empirically identifies the critical variables using an exploratory methodology for a large, highly categorical database involving latent class analysis (LCA), loglinear modeling, and Bayesian networking. Our model identified the most influential variables and countermeasures for two consequences of a hazmat incident, dollar loss and release quantity, and is one of the first models to do this. The most influential variables were found to be related to the failure of the container. In addition to analyzing hazmat risk, our methodology can be used to develop data-driven models for strategic decision making in other domains involving risk.
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Keywords: Bayesian network decision model; container unloading; hazardous materials transportation risk; large categorical database; loglinear modeling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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