Fuel Oil News

Fuel Oil News September 2015

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FUELS 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 | FUEL OIL NEWS | www.fueloilnews.com BY STEPHEN BENNETT Regulatory Update: Propane NPGA keeps watch on regulators' proposals R egulatory agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Energy have issued proposals that the National Propane Gas Association, is supporting ener- getically, fighting avidly or monitoring closely, sometimes in conjunction with other trade groups. Sarah Arena, director of regulatory affairs for NPGA, said the DOT initiatives have to do with extending the required interval for bobtail requalification to ten years; LPG odor- ization; a safety rule on rail cars; and minimum insurance requirements for companies that operate motor vehicles to transport propane. The group is also talking to OSHA about its proposal to regulate cranes; and to the DOE about its proposals for higher annual fuel utilization efficiency for furnaces, and a safety proposal for hearth products. Arena delivered a briefing on all of these matters to attendees of the New York Propane Gas Association Summer Conference in Cooperstown, N.Y., in June, and she provided an update in an interview with Fues Oil News in August. Here is a rundown: BOBTAIL REQUALIFICATION More than two years ago the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency within DOT, accepted a petition by NPGA requesting a rulemaking to extend the bobtail pressure test requalification period from five to 10 years. The proposed extension would apply to cargo tanks in dedicated propane service that have less than 3,500 gallons of water capacity. The period for public comment has closed, and now DOT is evaluating the comments, Arena said. "We did not identify any negative comments or feedback… so we are quite hope- ful that the agency will approve that extension." Approval of the extension has the potential to save $54 million—"a siz- able benefit for our industry," Arena said. LPG ODORIZATION A regulatory proposal by DOT goes beyond what is known as the industry "sniff test," Arena said. NPGA strongly opposes such requirements for cylinders and cargo tanks, Arena said, citing economic and operational impacts, among other fac- tors At an industry forum last year Joseph Nicklous of PHMSA recommended research to identify "gaps and vulnerabili- ties in regulations and procedure on odorization of LPG," according to a copy of his presentation available online. Nicklous said research should determine the effectiveness of the "sniff test" and establish an alternate analysis method perhaps based on ASTM standards. Adding to current odorant(s) to prevent "fade"—and exploring the feasibility of a new odorant—also should be researched, Nicklous sug- gested in his presentation. Challenges would be training the public to recognize a new smell of LPG, he noted; the smell would need to be unique. Another avenue to explore would be conditioning of containers/steel to slow or prevent reac- tion with odorant, Nicklous suggested. His call for research followed by more than three years a July 30, 2010, propane gas explosion at a Norfolk, Mass., condominium complex that killed one and injured seven. Liquid samples taken from tanks at the site confirmed virtually no odorant—ethyl Mercaptan—was present, according to Nicklous' presenta- tion and news reports. NPGA, other propane industry representatives and a representative from the National Association of State Fire Marshals met with DOT, Arena said. "The fire marshals' association agrees with and supports our position on the issue. If the DOT went through with the regulation as pro- posed it could cost tens of millions of dollars annually, so it's a considerable burden that [DOT is] contemplating," Arena said. "This issue is somewhat ongoing." Another meeting with DOT/PHMS is anticipated. RAIL CAR RULE DOT's rail car rule, which Arena said was final, imposes more stringent design standards for railcars carrying crude oil and other Class 3 liquids. It also sets limited speeds of trains carrying that class of liquids, based on location and car volume, she said. The design requirements do not apply to LPG railcars (Class 2), but she said, "expect some delays in product that's normally sent via railcar because of the speed restrictions." MINIMUM INSURANCE REQUIREMENT A DOT proposal to increase the minimum insurance require- ments for companies is based on a study that found current minimums are insufficient to cover medical costs—in one percent of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, Arena said. DOT's proposal overlooks "all the times that CMVs have sufficient insurance, more than necessary insurance—so we vehemently oppose the proposal," Arena said. The agency sought public input through an Advanced

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