FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2007
||Richard Fredenburg, LP-Gas Section manager
NCDA&CS Standards Division
Western N.C. propane tank customers urged to check tanks
by Blue Ridge Tank Co. of Franklin
RALEIGH -- The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages customers who purchased tanks from Blue Ridge Tank Co. of Franklin to have the tanks inspected to determine if they were improperly modified.
An investigation by the NCDA&CS LP-Gas Inspection Section has found that some tanks sold by this company were improperly modified and no longer meet the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' specifications for LP-gas tanks. These specifications help ensure the overall safety of propane tanks.
"Some of the alterations that were made to these tanks include welding to convert tanks intended for above-ground service to underground service, which is not allowed under ASME rules," said Richard Fredenburg, manager of the LP Gas Section. "Part of our concern is that the tanks may have not been properly prepared for underground use, which could make them more susceptible to corrosion. Corrosion can cause any propane tank to develop a leak, and not properly preparing it for burial can make that corrosion occur sooner."
A business making these types of changes must be certified to do this work, and Blue Ridge Tank Co. has not been certified, according to records with the N.C. Department of Labor's Boiler Safety Bureau.
LP-Gas inspectors have found that Blue Ridge Tank Co. often removed the existing data plate and reattached it where it could be seen once the tanks were converted from above-ground to underground service. The data plate is a metal plate located on the tank with information about the manufacturer and the size and intended use of the tank.
ASME rules and the state's LP-Gas Code specify that a tank with an improper or altered data plate must be removed from service.
These tanks have been sold for at least the past 20 years. Because they were regularly sold for underground service, the tanks are mostly hidden from view of NCDA&CS inspectors.
Bills of Sale for some of the tanks state there is either a three- or 20-year warranty, although what the warranty covers is not clear.
Consumers are encouraged to take a look at their propane tanks. If the tank has a data plate indicating it was made by Blue Ridge Tank Co., or the data plate is attached by pop rivets or appears to have been added to the tank some time after it was built, then it should be inspected by a propane company.
People who suspect that their tank was inappropriately modified should contact their propane company and ask them to inspect the tank. Consumers with questions can also contact the NCDA&CS Standards Division at (919) 733-3313.