Explosion impacts during transport of hazardous cargo: GIS-based characterization of overpressure impacts and delineation of flammable zones for ammonia

J Environ Manage. 2015 Jun 1;156:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.02.044. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


The aim of this research was to investigate accidental releases of ammonia followed by an en-route incident in an attempt to further predict the consequences of hazardous cargo accidents. The air dispersion model Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres (ALOHA) was employed to track the probable outcomes of a hazardous material release of a tanker truck under different explosion scenarios. The significance of identification of the flammable zones was taken into consideration; in case the flammable vapor causes an explosion. The impacted areas and the severity of the probable destructions were evaluated for an explosion by considering the overpressure waves. ALOHA in conjunction with ArcGIS was used to delineate the flammable and overpressure impact zones for different scenarios. Based on the results, flammable fumes were formed in oval shapes having a chief axis along the wind direction at the time of release. The expansions of the impact areas under the overpressure value which can lead to property damage for 2 and 20 tons releases, under very stable and unstable atmospheric conditions were estimated to be around 1708, 1206; 3742, 3527 feet, respectively, toward the wind direction. A sensitivity analysis was done to assess the significance of wind speed on the impact zones. The insight provided by this study can be utilized by decision makers in transportation of hazardous materials as a guide for possible rerouting, rescheduling, or limiting the quantity of hazardous cargo to reduce the possible impacts after hazardous cargo accidents during transport.

Keywords: ALOHA; Air dispersion; Explosion; Flammable zone; Geographical information systems (GIS); Hazardous material cargo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Ammonia*
  • Explosions*
  • Gases
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Transportation*


  • Gases
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Ammonia