DOT Approves NPGA Petition On DOT Cylinder Requalification

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) reports that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved NPGA’s petition on the requalification of DOT-specification cylinders by hydrostatic testing, also known as the volumetric expansion testing method. This action, announced by PHMSA in an Oct. 30, 2020, final rule, returns the requalification period to 12 years.  

NPGA had previously identified an oversight by PHMSA as part of the agency’s development of a 2016 rule that changed 49 CFR 180.209(e), which reduced the initial requalification period for DOT-specification cylinders following volumetric expansion testing from 12 years to 10 years and increased the timeframe for requalification following a proof pressure test from seven years to 10 years. Nowhere, in either the 2015 proposed rule or 2016 final rule, did PHMSA provide any rationale or substantiation for the changes or address them in any form. This oversight resulted in a significant, negative impact on the propane industry. 

NPGA aggressively pursued resolution of this issue with PHMSA and engaged the support of members of Congress as well as prepared legal measures in order to secure a correction to this substantive, yet unjustified change. With PHMSA’s acceptance and final approval of NPGA’s petition, the association estimates the regulatory savings to the propane industry to be more than $100 million per year. 

The changes published in the final rule take effect on Nov. 30, 2020, although voluntary compliance was permitted to begin on Oct. 30. 

Also, in March 2017, PHMSA published an Enforcement Discretion document that stated the agency will not take enforcement action against the requalification of DOT-specification cylinders by volumetric testing according to a 12-year period, as previously authorized in 49 CFR 180.209(e), thus, permitting either a 12- or 10-year requalification period for volumetric expansion testing. With the aforementioned changes, PHMSA announced that on November 30, 2020, PHMSA’s Enforcement Discretion document will terminate.

Please note this regulatory action does not impact the five-year cylinder requalification period for the external visual inspection method.

SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, November 5, 2020. Weekly Propane Newsletter subscribers receive all the latest posted and spot prices from major terminals and refineries around the U.S. delivered to inboxes every week. Receive a center spread of posted prices with hundreds of postings updated each week, along with market analysis, insightful commentary, and much more not found elsewhere.