The Utilization of Geographic Information Systems in Nuclear Emergency Response in Pennsylvania


J. F. Barnhart


Nuclear emergency response to potential and real nuclear power plant emergencies has been one of the major responsibilities of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Radiation Protection (PA DEP-BRP) since the Three Mile Island accident in March 1979. Since then, several technological improvements facilitate better vital information management during the nuclear emergency response drills for the nine nuclear power reactors in the Commonwealth. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one such advancement being utilized. Presently, GIS is widely used in several aspects of various governmental emergency response actions. The PA DEP-BRP nuclear emergency response staff in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State University's Environmental Resource Research Institute (ERRI) has developed a tailored GIS application on ESRI ArcView 3.2 GIS software. This particular software application provides the following major functions: It creates on the fly custom maps that spatially show several data layers pertinent to the nuclear power plants. It quickly imports and spatially displays radioactive plume projections and data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Radiological Assessment System for Consequence Analysis (RASCAL 3.0.3) software. It also allows field team radiological data and Global Positioning System (GPS) data to be quickly imputed into a spatial database. Additionally, it allows the operator to determine possible natural radiological background anomalies in Pennsylvania from National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) spatial data. All information can be displayed in several printed and electronic visual formats. The aforementioned functions are easily implemented in Arcview 3.2 software because of several software macros that were programmed by ERRI personnel. The following describes the work to date and plans to integrate these capabilities into our nuclear emergency response plans and procedures.


This abstract was presented at the 36th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Radiation Safety Aspects of Homeland Security and Emergency Response", Poster Session, 1/26/2003 - 1/29/2003, held in San Antonio, TX.

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