SMS was involved in a major project in South East Australia called the Mulwala Redevelopment Project. Starting in 2007 and stretching through till 2015, over 1000 days were worked without a lost time injury. This was a project for the Australian Department of Defense to modernize the production of single base propellants. The project involved the design and development of a new manufacturing process as well as construction of the new facilities at the Defense owned, company operated site at Mulwala, NSW Australia. In addition, startup and low rate initial production of the plant was required, all while the existing facility was in operation. The explosive safety support included Risk Management, Testing and Facility Siting.
Safety Management Services (SMS) provided Explosives Safety Support for the MRP from the concept phase through design, construct and commissioning of the state-of-the-art single base propellant manufacturing facility in Mulwala, New South Wales Australia. As the facilities were erected and equipment was built, SMS supported the efforts through building inspections and equipment specific hazards analysis coupled with onsite factory acceptance testing for the process equipment. Explosives Safety Reviews were conducted on all process equipment and tooling meant to handle energetic material. As the processes were brought online, SMS lead the team through the Prestart-up Safety Reviews and performed additional Process Hazards on all processes, procedures and equipment.
As well as Process Hazards Analysis and general explosives safety support through the design, construction and start up phases, SMS provided operational and systems safety support of the operating plant to ensure safe operation and development of an industry best safety program and culture.
EXPLOSIVES TESTING SUPPORT
The testing portion of the project required SMS to perform multiple tests on nine single-based propellants as follows:
- IMR-8208M* (5.56 mm Ball)
- SR-8231* (5.56 mm Blank)
- IMR-5010 (.50 cal Ball)
- Mod SR-8231*(.50 cal Blank)
- RP-36 FS (25 mm, M793)
- M1SP (105 mm Low Zone)
- M1MP (105 mm High Zone)
- M10 (81 mm Mortar)
- BS-NACO (5”/54)
The tests performed were:
- ABL Impact
- UN 5(a) Cap Sensitivity
- ABL Friction
- NOL Card Gap
- ABL ESD
- Critical Height
- Small Burn
Additional testing was performed based on concerns for elevated temperature of the propellant in the air dryer as well as depths and confinement of propellant in process. Sensitivity and reactivity tests performed included:
- ABL Impact at Elevated Temperature
- ABL Friction at Elevated Temperature
- Critical Height at Elevated Temperature
- Critical Height (Less Restrictive)
- Critical Height (Confined)
Safety Management Services, Inc. (SMS) has also completed further hazards testing based on concerns for elevated temperature of the propellant as well as stacking of bulk bags in the in- process storage magazines. Modified elevated temperature critical height, and simulated bulk bag storage testing was also performed.
FACILITY SITING SUPPORT
SMS performed a preliminary facility siting assessment for the new and modified Mulwala facilities. The preliminary assessment was in support of the proposal effort to the Australian Department of Defense. SMS determined the maximum quantities of explosive materials allowed in each building based on the separation distance between each building under the OPSMAN-3, Safety Principles for the Handling of Explosive Ordnance standard, other governing regulations, and applicable explosive safety standards.
Other factors considered were building design/construction, types and quantities of explosives in-process and in-storage, and distance to adjacent buildings in establishing the placement of buildings on a given site such that risks to personnel and facilities are minimized.
The layout development process criteria in order of precedence were: safety, environment, efficiency of operation, impact on existing facility and neighboring properties, and other.
The layout of the facilities was developed such that the inhabited building distances were taken to the property boundary, to protect the operations and facility from any potential development outside of the property boundaries and to reduce any impact on residential or commercial neighbors.
A preliminary review of the respective Facility Site Plans and the associated types and quantities of materials to be used or handled was conducted. From this review an initial risk ranking of the operations at the sites was developed. This ranking was based on:
- Amount of material being processed
- The number of personnel exposed in the event of an incident
- The potential for consequences off-site
- The location in relation to other facilities
QD arcs were developed for each new facility/building to be erected and were based on OPSMAN 3. This included QD arcs of process buildings for operations involving explosive ordinance (EO) of HD 1.1 and HD 1.3 facilities, arcs for inhabited building and public traffic route distances and arcs for the existing operational facilities.