FMCSA bars carrier from transporting hazmat, repair shop from working on code tanks

Sept. 16, 2014

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an Emergency Restriction/Prohibition and Out-of-Service Order to National Distribution Services Inc, TankServices LLC, and Carl Johansson.

 Effective August 14, the order was issued by the field administrator for FMCSA's Western Service Center and prohibits the filling, offering, transportation, and welded repair of cargo tank vehicles by these three entities. Additionally these parties are prohibited from conducting inspections and/or testing of any cargo tank or cargo tank motor vehicle unless such inspection and/or testing is conducted by a Registered Inspector.

 On May 6, 2014, a cargo tank catastrophically exploded while employees of National Distribution Services Inc and/or TankServices, LLC were welding on the shell of the cargo tank, resulting in the death of one a welder and serious injuries to another. The welding repair work was directed by Carl Johansson for National Distribution Services Inc, according to FMCSA investigators. An investigation conducted by FMCSA shortly after the explosion indicated that the cargo tank had not been cleaned and purged prior to the welding.

 On July 8, 2014 FMCSA initiated an investigation on TankServices LLC and determined that it is co-owned by an employee of National Distribution Services Inc. Further, it was determined that she is paid to be a payroll service issuing TankServices LLC checks to National Distribution Services Inc employees.

 Upon reliable and credible information received in the course of the investigation, FMCSA learned that welded repairs had been performed on the shell and/or head of DOT-specification cargo tanks by or for National Distribution Services Inc. Further, the welded repairs were not made in accordance with the requirements of 49 CFR 180.413; the repairs were not certified by a Registered Inspector; and neither National Distribution Services Inc nor TankServices LLC repair hold a valid National Board Certificate of Authorization “R” stamp or ASME Certificate of Authorization “U” Stamp.

 The Investigator discovered at least seven other DOT-specification cargo tanks for which welded repairs had been conducted which were not made in accordance with the requirements of 49 CFR 180.413. Those cargo tanks were being used to transport hazardous materials.

 Further, National Distribution Services Inc and its contractors and subhaulers were filling or allowing to be filled and offering and/or transporting hazardous materials, including petroleum distillate fuel products such as crude oil, gasoline, and jet fuel, in cargo tanks that have not been inspected and tested as required. At least 35 of the DOT specification cargo tanks owned, leased, and/or operated by National Distribution Services Inc being used to transport hazardous materials on a daily basis had not been inspected or tested as required by 49 CFR 180.407.

 Neither National Distribution Services Inc nor TankServices, LLC were currently registered to perform inspections and tests on DOT-specification cargo tanks, and neither has current registration nor employs a Registered Inspector. Additionally, during the investigation, DOT-specification cargo tanks with evidence of dents, cuts, gouges, and corroded or abraded areas were observed for which no inspection and testing have been completed. Moreover, National Distribution Services Inc has been cited during roadside inspections for violations of the HMRs, including violations for damage to the cargo tank, the cargo tank not having current inspection markings, and releases of hazardous materials. For example, on July 14, 2014 a National Distribution Services Inc vehicle was placed out of service after the Inspector observed hazardous materials leaking from a control valve under the middle tank of three tanks.