RSPA Proposes Changes to Rules Governing Cargo Tank Unloading

CHANGES TO the rules governing cargo tank unloading operations for liquefied compressed gases have been proposed by the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA). The notice of proposed rulemaking on the revisions was published in the Federal Register March 22, 1999.

Among the new provisions is one that modifies earlier proposals to require an attendant to have an uninterrupted view of the hose from the MC330-MC331 vehicle to the storage tank. It would have applied to LPG and anhydrous ammonia distribution in particular. The new proposal takes into account some of the delivery requirements involving the products while assuring that the person attending the unloading operation can quickly determine if an unintentional release occurs. Concern had been voiced in the delivery of propane to tanks that would require the driver to be out of sight of the truck.

RSPA officials said all the proposed changes would reduce the risk of an unintentional release of liquefied compressed gases during unloading and in the event discharge control equipment fails to shut down properly. The proposal was developed through a negotiated rulemaking committee composed of federal, state, and industry representatives.

Cliff Harvison, president of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc, was a participant on the regulatory negotiation committee, which led to the publication of the proposal.

"NTTC will support the implementation of the final rule," Harvison said. "Our members operating MC330 and MC331 tanks were faced with a specific problem in terms of the functioning of safety equipment on those units. I'm confident that both the proposed retrofit and the hose management program, together with driver training procedures, are reasonable and cost effective ways to address the problem and enhance safety.

"Moreover, this regulatory process demonstrates that carriers, shippers, emergency responders, and government can unite to resolve important issues."

Ronald McGrath, technology manager at the Compressed Gas Association, said the proposal is not completely satisfactory to the liquefied compressed gases industry. "But we have to form a consensus," he said. He pointed out that carbon dioxide is not affected by the regulations, with the exception of hose management. "It may be a little overkill on flammable gases," he added. "For the most part, the Department of Transportation (DOT) had to do something."

Companies will have to inspect hoses more frequently, and have a procedure to follow in the event of a spill, in addition to what is now required.

McGrath predicted companies will be impacted by costs caused by compliance and will not be able to pass the costs on to customers. Some of that cost will come from installing new equipment on vehicles.

Transportation Secretary Rodney E Slater said in a DOT news release that the measures proposed would help prevent accidental releases of dangerous gases during unloading operations and protect the public and the environment.

"Negotiated rulemaking represents the core values the Department of Transportation has established for conducting business - listening, learning from, and collaborating with our customers," said Kelley S Coyner, RSPA administrator. "The negotiated rulemaking committee found safety solutions to an important truck safety issue."

The negotiated rulemaking committee included representatives from businesses that transport and deliver propane, anhydrous ammonia, and other liquefied compressed gases; manufacturers and operators of cargo tanks and vehicle components; and state and local public safety and emergency response agencies. The committee met six times between July 1998 and February 1999.

In addition to Harvison and McGrath, those serving on the committee were Charles Revere, Revere Gas and Appliance; Mike Gorham, NorthwestGas; Lin Johnson, Lin's Propane; Russell Rupp, Suburban Propane; Ken Faulhaber, Ferrellgas; Charles Whittington, Grammar Industries; Jean Trobec and Cliff Shoettmer, Growmark; Mike Pitts, Mississippi Tank; David Auxier, Bulk Tank and Transport; and Jim Griffin, Fisher Controls.

RSPA's proposal applies to cargo tanks used to transport and deliver liquefied compressed gases such as liquefied petroleum gas and anhydrous ammonia. It combines measures to prevent unintentional releases during unloading operations with requirements that will assure quick identification of releases. The proposal includes: -Rigorous new inspection, maintenance, and testing requirements for cargo tank discharge systems, including hoses and hose assemblies. -New requirements for state-of-the-art emergency discharge control equipment on cargo tank motor vehicles, such as passive systems that will shut down unloading without human intervention, and remote control devices that enable an attendant to stop the unloading process at a distance from the vehicle.

These requirements are keyed to the degree of risk associated with the transportation of specific liquefied compressed gases, according to RSPA.

RSPA is proposing a two-year period for technology development and testing. After two years, the proposal would require newly manufactured cargo tanks to be equipped with the appropriate emergency discharge control equipment. Cargo tanks that are already in service would be retrofitted over a five-year period.

Concerns about emergency discharge control on cargo tanks were identified following an incident in Sanford, North Carolina, in 1996. In 1997, RSPA adopted an interim final rule establishing certain temporary regulations under which cargo tanks could remain in service while RSPA evaluated this incident and other situations in which liquefied compressed gases were released unintentionally from cargo tanks during unloading operations. The interim final rule expires July 1, 1999. The new proposal is intended to replace the temporary regulation.

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