O-106 Relationships Between UN Transportation Test and NATO SsD 1.2.3 and IM Tests

April 2006
Eric Deschambault (Munitions Logistics - Transport and Storage)

The United Nations (UN) has a well established and globally applied scheme for the classification of packaged explosives. These materials are assigned to UN Class 1, and there are 6 Divisions of Class 1 (i.e., Class Division (C/D) 1.1 through C/D 1.6). This scheme is based on the hazards the explosives substances and/or articles present if they were exposed to stimuli typically associated with transport accidents. The UN system, through a series of tests, identifies the expected risks and consequences associated with packaged explosives items in transport and then based on the results of those tests places them in the appropriate C/D (or Hazard Division (HD)) that reflects their predominant hazard (i.e., blast, fragments, fire, or minimal hazard).

NATO utilizes this same UN hazard classification system as the basis for its own safety rules for the transportation, as well as the storage of munitions. NATO further breaks down UN HD 1.2 and 1.3 into Storage sub-Divisions (SsD) to further define their expected risks and consequences associated with an inadvertent initiation involving munitions in those two HD.

Separately, NATO has approved a six-test protocol for determining whether or not a munition qualifies as an Insensitive Munition (IM)/Munition a Risques Attènués (MURAT). An IM is less susceptible to inadvertent initiation to unplanned stimuli and threats that the munition may experience over its lifetime and as determined through a Threat hazard Assessment (THA). In addition, if the IM were to inadvertently initiate, then the severity and hazard effects from that munition would be significantly minimized as compared to a similar non-IM.

In addition, NATO has established SsD 1.2.3 to denote an HD 1.2 munition that is less susceptible to inadvertent initiation, but if it does initiate, the severity of the event will be greatly reduced and limited to one munition. In order to qualify as a NATO SsD 1.2.3 munition, an HD 1.2 munition must successfully pass four of the six IM tests that were mentioned above.

In practice, there are a number of aspects of both the UN and NATO hazard classification systems that are common and inter-related. The Munitions Safety Information Analysis Center (MSIAC) located at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, receives many questions regarding this area, and consistently finds that there is confusion among the various munitions-related communities about the inter-relationships between the UN and NATO hazard classification systems and the NATO IM/MURAT program. This paper, which provides supporting narrative for Annex A, the MSIAC poster titled Relationships Between UN Transportation Tests and NATO SsD 1.2.3 and IM Tests, attempts to piece the important parts of those 3 systems together, and in general terms, tries to explain how they are inter-related. Annex A does this in a flowchart manner that is easier to follow, as compared to having to review the numerous UN and NATO documents dealing with these topics to determine how it all fits together. In addition, this paper and Annex A identify where common testing opportunities exist within the UN and NATO, and where it is possible, given proper coordination and approval, for testing to meet similar requirements in multiple interest areas.

Presentation details

Presented at IMEMTS 2006