Quick calculation

If a chemical, biological or radiological release occurs in the Seattle area, city emergency personnel will input three basic types of data using a software application that acts as the front end to a National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) system. The data includes where the release occurred, when it occurred and what type of agent they believe is involved.

The application then transmits the information via the Internet to NARAC scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There, scientists will run the information against real-time weather data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and two local weather centers in Seattle; area terrain and surface information; the particulars of the hazardous agents involved; and meteorological and dispersion models.

The results — which will show the hazardous zones, the expected health effects and the populations at risk — will be sent to local officials in about five minutes and automatically superimposed on geographic information system maps of Seattle, including vector maps of streets, schools and landmarks, as well as aerial photos and topographical maps.

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