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Standards Division

Richard Fredenburg, LP-Gas Engineer

INDUSTRY LP-GAS CONCERNS

This is a list of current LP-Gas items of interest for the LP-Gas industry:
(Click on an item to be taken down the page to that subject.)

Temporary Suspension of Violations for Covers Over Tanks - October 21, 2014 - We have temorarily suspended the portion of inspections we began this year that rejected any cover over a container containing LP-Gas. See details of the suspension by clicking here. The plans we had for dealing with the potential interruption in business did not materialize as intended. This is not to be interpreted as approval for the covers, especially if the relief valve is blocked from discharging unobstructed to the open air for tens of feet over the container. It is a temporary suspension only.

Composite Cylinder Recall Notice - May 29, 2013
Certain composite cylinders made by the Lite Cylinder Company have been recalled by the US DOT. See the recall notice for the DOT numbers included in the recall. This number is marked on the cylinder or on the enclosing frame. Customers who own these cylinders must stop using them and follow the instructions in the recall notice. Dealers must not fill these cylinders.

1. Operations and Maintenance Procedures Information
2. Requalification of cylinders policy
3. Assumption of service from another propane company information
4. Electric meters - Are they a source of ignition?
5. Seal Break Reports
6. Guidelines for protection from vehicle impact
7. Anchoring tanks in flood-prone areas
8. Failure of backflow check valves
9. Cylinder exchange cabinets
10. Submittal requirements for LP-Gas bulk storage facilities
11. Fire safety analysis information
12. Listing of magazine article titles
13. LP-Gas Laws
14. LP-Gas Regulations
15. Defining "important building"
16. Extension requests
17. RIN or Retester Identification Number
18. Fences - Our interpretation of what qualifies as appropriate fences
19. LP-Gas inspections have gone electronic.
20. Name plate concerns
21. Logging Maintenance Activities
22. Violations That Result In Immediate Penalties
23. Fire Protection Analysis for enclosures for LP-Gas tanksNew

1. Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Procedures are required by chapter 14 of the LP-Gas Code. An aid to drafting these procedures can be found at the PERC website under the compliance tab. Or you may download this Operations and Maintenance Handbook by clicking here. You will also need an additional file to help you with section 3 of that manual on emergency response.  This additional file is available by clicking here.  A site-specific O&M procedure must be in effect for a site before it goes into operation. You should show only those procedures that will be performed at that site in the operation procedures for that site. Employees and contractors must be trained on these procedures. Any maintenance performed must be logged (date performed and signature/initials) on the maintenance checklist by someone appropriately trained.

Simplified Operations and Maintenance Procedure Template. The operating and maintenance procedures for bulk plant sites with tanks 2000 gallons water capacity or smaller and for vapor service only can be simplified. You may download a template for the requirements for these sites only. From that, you can see what procedures must be listed in the O&M procedures for these sites. You can get the individual procedures from the Handbook, described above. This template is not appropriate for any site having a tank larger than 2000 gallons or having any liquid service piping.

2. Requalification Policy: The 2001 through 2014 Editions of NFPA 58 require that a DOT propane cylinder may not be refilled unless it is in its qualification date. Large stationary cylinders had a delayed implementation date for compliance. This is the policy on how we will conduct inspections on large stationary cylinders. You will need Acrobat Reader to read this file. Download the Acrobat Reader
3. Sample Notification of Assumption of Consumer Propane Service form: This is a sample form you may use to notify the existing propane company that you intend to assume the service for one of their customers. You may also use it to develope a form specific to your company (letterhead, etc.). All of the information shown in the first four sections must be on a company-specific from. A written notification is required, as it has been since January 1, 2003. See LP-Gas Regulations, section 02 NCAC 38 .0705.
Note that there is a place on the form to indicate if you intend to transfer the gas from the present tank to the new tank.
There is also a way to notify the Standards Division when you want to complain about another company failing to provide the required notice before disconnecting. Submit a Complaint Form by downloading it and sending it to this office. Instructions are on the form. Or you can submit a Complaint Form online.
4. Electric Meters - Are they a source of ignition?
5. Submit Seal Break Report: You can now submit break reports online. If you have broken a seal on a propane meter (truck or dispenser) you must inform this office. Click on the paragraph heading and you will be taken to a form to complete that will be automatically sent to us. If you have not received a confirmation of receipt of the report in a week, please resend it.
6. Revised protection from vehicle impact guidelines have been formulated and made available. These explain the minimum requirements for protecting all containers from impact. You will need Acrobat Reader to read this file. Download the Acrobat Reader

7. Considerations for anchoring of propane tanks in flood-prone areas. - This is a listing of several magazine articles for the North Carolina Propane Gas Association magazine over a number of years that show how the evolution of our thinking for tank anchoring.

Statement of our position for securing tanks - This is a memorandum with our interpretation for what must be considered when securing tanks and what documentation must be considered when choosing anchors or anchoring systems.

FEMA has some documents for anchoring fuel tanks in flood-prone areas. When referring to these documents, care must be taken to not apply some fuel oil tank suggestions to propane tanks. Always refer to the LP-Gas Code for the requirements for installing propane tanks. That said, you can see the Fuel Systems document, the Anchoring and Bracing document, or the Anchor Fuel Tank document by clicking on the appropriate link. Also, please note that some of the artwork does not properly portray propane tanks.

Supplier web sites with some good information can be found at Minuteman Anchors and Tie Down Engineering, (tank anchoring and soil probe chart). This is not an endorsement of these suppliers.

8. Failure of backflow check valves in bulk storage plants:
Inspectors are still finding failures of these valves. Many of the valves have been repaired or replaced. This is a maintenance item. They can break or get blocked open by debris. The requirement for a screen, strainer, or other device to exclude debris goes a long way to preventing failure of these valves.
9. Cylinder Exchange Cabinets Lists some concerns for the proper setting of cylinder exchange cabinets. (Newly updated!)
10. Submittal Requirements for LP-Gas Bulk Storage Facilities You must follow these instructions before setting a bulk storage tank.

11. Fire Safety Analysis

This section is for a fire safety analysis for LP-Gas bulk plants. It is not for the fire protection analysis required for enclosures over or around LP-Gas tanks. For the fire protection analysis information, go to section 23 on this page.

All bulk propane sites must have either a fire safety analysis, as described in NFPA 58, the LP-Gas Code, or by the alternative to the fire safety analysis as approved by the Board of Agriculture and described in the LP-Gas Regulations. Contact the NFPA, the NCPGA, or the NPGA for guidelines on conducting this analysis. According to the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, the fire safety analysis must be performed by a professional engineer (PE) licensed in North Carolina. The alternative to the fire safety analysis is a much less technical document and includes a meeting between the facility owner and local fire officials. It does not require input by a PE. Click here for guidelines for the alternative. Click here for a sample format for the documentation. The link to the guidelines also provides information on the FSA Manual, another method to provide an FSA.

12. Listing of magazine articles. Articles written by the NCDA&CS Standards Division appearing in the magazine for the North Carolina Propane Gas Association since November 1994.

13. The General Statutes of North Carolina concerning Liquefied Petroleum Gases are found within Chapter 119, Gasoline and Oil Inspection and Regulation. LP-Gas laws are in Sections 119-54 through 119-62. Click here (LP-Gas Law) and scroll down to the desired section. NOTE: The link takes you to a listing of the laws that can be up to six months behind in updating. Click here (Updates) to take you to the most recent changes.

14. The Regulations of North Carolina concerning Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LP-Gas Regulations)
15. North Carolina's interpretation of what constitutes the term "important building," as used in the LP-Gas Code.

16. Extension Requests - You may request an extension to give you more time to correct violations. Approval of extension requests is not guaranteed. Supporting documentation will help ensure approval. Extensions must be in writing and should include:

  1. The inspection report number (This is required to make sure that we are unquestionably considering the proper site and inspection.)
  2. The name of the company or store that was inspected
  3. The date of the inspection
  4. Type of inspection (LPG-1x, LPG-3A. LPG-4, or LPG-5 from the upper left corner of the inspection form) or "miscellaneous," "truck," "dispenser," or "bulk plant," respectively.
  5. Justification for why an extension is needed (e.g., contractor delays, can't find parts, can't paint in this weather) with available documentation to support justification
  6. The date (month/day/year) you expect to be able to complete the corrections. Please do not ask for, for instance, "another 30 days." Be specific about when you expect to finish. Required

Requests for extensions must be in writing and can be sent by mail (address is on the inspection report), fax (919-715-0524), or e-mail (standards@ncagr.gov). For faxed requests, please include your fax number if you want the reply by fax or directions for how to send a reply. On e-mail requests, you MUST start the subject line with the word "Extension." This is because of the high number of emails received. Emails can be sorted by subject, allowing an email with an extension request to be found quickly. A reply will be sent by the same method.

REPEAT: All requests must be in writing and must include the inspection number and the expected completion date. Emailed requests must have the word "Extension" as the first word of the subject line. Failure to follow these instructions may result in delays in approving requests, possibly impacting the deadline, as explained in the important note, below.

We understand that sometimes even the best plans are subject to unexpected delays. If you have an unexpected delay in completing corrections, please request an extension prior to the date specified on the warning or penalty letter. If you already have an extension, we are not opposed to adding to that extension for valid reasons.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware of approaching deadlines for completing corrections or for the end of extension periods. If you need more time, be sure to officially request it in time for us to act on it, notify the inspector, and reply before the end of the initial correction period established in the warning or penalty letter or for the end of the existing extension period. With work load, out-of-office activities, mail delays, and occasional email delivery failures, waiting until the last minute to request an extension may result in a return inspection visit before the extension request is acted upon. Inspectors may return at any time after the period established in the warning or penalty letter passes or the extension expires. We will not grant an extension or add to an existing one if it the request is made the same day the inspector arrives for a reinspection.

Not all extensions will be granted, especially for those with a critical safety concern. Your justification statement may be key to getting the requested extension. Also, no extensions will be given for US DOT (49 CFR) violations. These items are officially the authority of US DOT and NC Motor Carrier Enforcement. If we were to give an extension on these items, the driver and his company might be operating under the false assumption that they have more time to correct them. Actually, DOT or MCE officers can perform their inspection of these items at any time, regardless of our prior inspections.

17. RIN Application - If you want to requalify out-of-date cylinders, you need a RIN, or retester identification number. These are assigned by the US DOT. You must apply for the RIN by following some specific steps. These are listed at US DOT. Your restest facility will be inspected and your qualifications will be reviewed prior to DOT assigning a RIN.

As these instruction are somewhat complicated, there is another website that appears to have more user-friendly instructions. You may see these instructions at Getz Manufacturing. NCDA&CS is providing this link for information, but neither guarantees the accuracy of the information nor endorses Getz Manufacturing.

18. Fences, as described by the LP-Gas Code, are required to be an enclosure "with a minimum 6-ft high industrial-type fence, chain link fence, or equivalent protection.”  (NFPA 58 section 6.18.4.2, 2011 edition)

Since this requirement left many questions unanswered, this subject was brought up at a meeting of the NFPA committee that has the responsibility for writing the LP-Gas Code. First, the committee agreed that a lightweight fence that is easy to climb over or to knock down is not acceptable.  A fence held up by wooden posts or lightweight metal posts is not acceptable.  The fencing material commonly known as hog wire, chicken wire, or animal control fence is not acceptable.  This is the lightweight material that may have smaller holes near the bottom than at the top.  And lightweight chain-link material commonly used at residential sites does not meet the requirement of being industrial-type.

It was also agreed that industrial-type fence material that is at least five feet tall and properly supported can meet the six-foot requirement by stringing at least a few rows of barbed wire along the top, taking it to six feet high.

More about the fence fabric. The code specifies industrial-type fence, chain-link fence, or equivalent protection. Most fabric that is specified as industrial should be acceptable unless it is somewhat easy to climb. Some mesh fabrics can be specified with "apertures" as wide as twelve inches. If it is industrial weight and properly supported, that kind of fabric can be fairly easy to climb. Even the smallest apertures of three inches would not be hard to get a toehold to climb. Industrial-weight chain-link fabric clearly has the edge in providing security.

More about the posts. There was a statement made by the Standards Division in the late 1980s that wooden posts would be acceptable as long as they are solid and fully support the fence fabric. Experience since then has shown that wooden posts are not as stable for the long term as earlier hoped. We determined that industrial weight metal posts set in concrete are the appropriate method to use to support fencing fabric. However, based on the earlier position, we will allow existing wooden posts to remain in service as long as they are solid and stable. When it is time to replace them, they must be replaced by industrial-type metal posts.

19. LP-Gas inspections have gone electronic. - As of mid-January, 2013, LP-Gas Inspectors are entering inspections of bulk plants, dispensers, delivery trucks, and miscellaneous sites electronically. They no longer have to record the inspections on paper and mail the paper copies to the office. The inspections are entered on hand-held computers linked to the Internet and the inspection database.

Rather than leaving a paper copy of the inspection, it will be emailed to the inspected party. If there is no email address on file, then a copy will be mailed from our office.

Items marked as rejected on the inspection will generate a letter that either warns that corrections must be made or that assess a penalty for certain violations that are penalized on the first violation. A date will be specified for when a reinspection may take place. If the violation persists, a penalty will be assessed. We strongly encourage you to request an extension, according to the instructions in section 16, if you cannot meet the specified date. Make you request well before the specified date. Requests for extensions on the same day as the inspector visits the site will not be considered.

20. Name plate concerns - Some propane tanks have a special pedigree that is conferred by the name plate. Loss or alteration of that plate can cause the loss the required pedigree. Read at the link to see how to protect the pedigree.
21. Logging Maintenance Activities - Maintenance procedures, including a maintenance log, are required for LP-Gas bulk plants. This requirement is shown in the LP-Gas Code, NFPA 58, in Chapter 14.

NFPA 58 section 14.3.1.2 has a clear requirement. “Persons who perform maintenance on LP-Gas systems shall be trained in the hazards of the system and in the maintenance and testing procedures applicable to the installation.” 

Further, section 14.3.1.3 has a similar requirement. “Any maintenance contractor shall ensure that each contract maintenance employee is so trained or under the immediate supervision of such a trained person to perform the maintenance procedures.”

These sections clearly require that the person who performs maintenance must be trained or under the supervision of a trained person. This cannot be confirmed if there is no record of who did or who supervised the work. For this reason, it is reasonable that the person must sign off on the maintenance items they performed. In addition, the signature on the maintenance document must be legible, so when reviewing the documents it is clear who did the work.

There is no need to sign or initial every item in a long list. If a signature/initials are shown at the beginning of the listing and a line drawn to indicate the items included, that should be sufficient. If initials are to be used, then a printed name or signature for those initials must also be somewhere on the document. Whatever method is used, it should be logical and clear to the person who reviews it. Also, remember to date it.

This is not to be considered our interpretation of the LP-Gas Code. It is a logical extension of requirements in the code. We will be sure that our inspectors all understand this and perform their inspections consistently.

22. Violations That Result In Immediate Penalties - Most violations result in a warning letter the first time they are found. The following list shows those violations that result in a penalty the first time the violation is found. The information in parentheses is the item number on the inspection form.

BULK PLANT VIOLATIONS (LPG-5)

  • Observed ignition source within 25' (3s)
  • Wheel stops not provided or used (4b)
  • Evidence of smoking in trucks (4c)
  • Sign TANK CAR CONNECTED not supplied (7c)
  • Railcar Wheels not chocked (7d)
  • Container ESVs and internal valves not closed if unattended (9j)
  • No valid LP-Gas dealer license, if applicable (9k)
  • ESV or internal valve tied or blocked open. (3o)

TRUCK VIOLATIONS (LPG-3)

  • Wheel Stops – not provided and used (19)
  • ESV or internal valve tied or blocked open. (11a)

DISPENSER VIOLATIONS (LPG-4)

  • Not registered – no license current  (1)
  • ESV or internal valve tied or blocked open. (14b)

MISCELLANEOUS VIOLATIONS (LPG-1B)

  • Cylinders in Buildings
    • Engine fuel cylinder not stored properly (2a)
    • Cylinders being fueled indoors (2b)
    • Quantity of 1# cylinders too high (2c)
    • Cylinders on floor maintenance machinery not properly labeled (2d)
    • Number of cylinders too high (2e)
    • Cylinder is unattended (2f)
  • Bulk Plant Approval Violations
    • Site does not have proper approval (3a)
  • Observed Fuel Transfer
    • Observed improper fuel transfer (5a)
    • Training documentation lacking or incomplete (5b)
  • LP-Gas Cargo Vehicles (other than calibration)
    • Parked without wheel stops (6a)
    • Smoking or other ignition source within specified distance (6b)
    • Driver not in attendance during transfer (6c)
    • Parked in congested area (6d)
    • Parked less than 50 ft. from assembly/institution (6e)
    • Parked indoors (6f)

23. Fire Protection Analysis

This section is for a fire protection analysis required for enclosures over or around LP-Gas tanks for LP-Gas bulk plants. It is not for the fire safety analysis required LP-Gas bulk plants. For the fire safety analysis information, go to section 11 on this page.

Structures around or over propane containers are not permitted unless specifically allowed, as required in the LP-Gas Code in section 6.4.5.1 (2014 edition). This means that each site where an enclosure is desired must have an approval from our office. Part of the request for that approval is a "sound fire protection analysis." (LP-Gas Code section 6.4.5.2) The content and format for the fire protection analysis is shown by clicking on this link. Note that a fire protection analysis is not the same as a fire safety analysis, required elsewhere in the code for large storage facilities.

Last updated October 21, 2014

 

 

NCDA&CS Standards Division, Stephen Benjamin, Director
Mailing Address:1050 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1050
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3225; FAX: (919) 715-0524