Directive: Propane Filling Plants and Container Refill Centres
January 18, 2022
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This directive is being issued by a provincial safety manager pursuant to section 30 of the Safety Standards Act.
This directive provides details on the design and installation requirements for propane filling plants (PFP) and container refill centres (CRC) in accordance with the CSA B149.2 Propane Storage and Handling Code (CSA B149.2). Information is also included on how heavily populated or congested areas are determined using the BC Building Code for occupant load and restrictions based on CSA B149.2.
These requirements apply to new installations or changes to tank capacity or tank locations at existing facilities. Propane companies operating with a valid Safety Management Plan under the Alternative Safety Approaches Regulation must comply with the requirements of this directive unless an acceptable alternative has been specifically identified under the terms of any current plan.
CSA B149.2 section 7.12 states: “In heavily populated or congested areas, the authority having jurisdiction may determine restrictions of individual tank capacity, total storage, distance to line of adjoining property, and other requirements.”
Heavily populated or congested areas - may include high rises, offices, hotels and below grade occupancies. It is any assessed area which has fifty (50) or more dwelling units intended for human occupancy, or an area occupied by more than three hundred (300) people as provided in the BC Building Code.
- PFP and CRC are to adhere to the heavily populated or congested area determination requirements listed in this directive.
- An application for design registration must be submitted to, accepted by, and registered by Technical Safety BC prior to the start of construction or installation.
- For commercial or industrial (non-retail) CRC applications, in lieu of design registration submission, the commercial or industrial (non-retail) zoning confirmation and occupancy load determination must be submitted with the installation permit application.
For all other new PFP or CRC installation, submission of the approval or verification documentation from the following associated authorities having jurisdiction is required as part of a design registration application:
a. The local government where the facility will be located. This may include, but is not limited to, business licensing, issuance of building permit where applicable, or confirmation of site zoning type;
b. The fire department responsible for the area where the facility will be located. This may include, but is not limited to, a completed occupancy load determination document if required by a local government bylaw; and
c. If not provided in item 3b above, the completion of an occupancy load determination document provided by a registered professional recognized by the local government.
- Drawings must demonstrate compliance by the applicant to the applicable requirements of CSA B149.2 and CSA B149.1 Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code.
- In accordance with the Safety Standards Act, all regulated equipment or product, including refuelling equipment, must be certified by a Standards Council of Canada accredited certification body to an adopted standard where one exists.
- Tanks located at a CRC must have a maximum propane storage capacity of 5000 USWG (19 000L) total as required by CSA B149.2 section 7.19.
Note: CRC with a maximum propane storage capacity in excess of 5000 USWG (19 000L) total are classified as “filling or bulk plants” and are required to maintain a Propane bulk plant operating permit with Technical Safety BC.
- In accordance with the Safety Standard General Regulation, prior to construction or installation taking place, a licensed gas contractor must:
- obtain a propane dispenser installation permit; and
- where applicable, obtain a remote dispenser installation permit.
- In accordance with the Safety Standard General Regulation, prior to final approval of all installation permits and before regulated equipment is placed into service, an appropriate operating permit must be obtained by the owner or operator of the site.
Revision, modification or alteration to existing facilities:
Any revision, modification or alteration of an existing site installation, such as change in container size or container location, must be approved by all applicable authorities having jurisdiction.
A new application for design registration must be submitted to, accepted by and registered by Technical Safety BC prior to the start of construction. In addition, an installation permit is required before any alterations are made. It is the sole responsibility of the owner of the propane equipment to ensure compliance is maintained.
Learn more about design registration fuelling stations
Like-for-like replacement of equipment during normal maintenance will not be construed as a modification of an installation, though permits are required where applicable (i.e., such as the replacement of a dispenser).
Heavily populated or congested areas:
A population density assessment that identifies the site as heavily populated or congested must be provided by:
- the fire department responsible for the area where the facility is to be located; or
- a professional engineer registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of British Columbia (Engineers and Geoscientists BC).
Occupant density is determined by the number of dwelling units and by the normal population density load from Table 184.108.40.206 of the BC Building Code, based only on that portion of the building or population within 100 metres from any external surface of the proposed propane tank(s).
See Appendix A for an extract from the BC Building Code relating to occupancy load calculations.
Consideration of Future Development
When calculating occupancy load, consideration must be given to the development plans of the area. If a building permit has been issued for the area around a proposed installation, any future development must be taken into consideration in the design and assigned occupant load determination of the location.
It is the responsibility of the facility owner to re-evaluate changes to the surrounding population density. Revisions to the installation’s population density may necessitate modifications to the installation such that it continues to comply with required safety clearances and fire protection. If modifications cannot be carried out the propane container may have to be removed.
Restrictions based on CSA B149.2 section 7.12
- Where a location is determined to be heavily populated or congested, a hazard and risk assessment and safety management plan sealed by a professional engineer registered with Engineers and Geoscientists BC must be supplied to, and confirmed as accepted by, the local government jurisdiction and fire department. This plan must be supplied as part of the required documentation in order to apply for Technical Safety BC design registration.
- Propane Filling or Bulk Plants must not be located in a heavily populated or congested area.
- A propane tank that is used for dispensing and located in a heavily populated or congested area must be buried underground or vaulted underground. The installation must comply with all applicable sections of the CSA B149.2. Application for installation of an underground tank is to be included with the gas fuelling station design registration. Learn more about buried pressure vessels here.
Local governments, fire departments, and other applicable Federal and Provincial agencies may have approval or permit requirements for other aspects of propane dispensing operations, such as land use, overall site and non-dispensing equipment. Approval by Technical Safety BC does not constitute approval by any other agency. The applicant is responsible for identifying and complying with all applicable requirements from all agencies. Approval and verification documentation from all applicable agencies must be submitted to Technical Safety BC prior to acceptance of the design registration.
Vicky KangManager, Energy
Provincial Safety Manager, Gas
Safety Standards ActGas Safety RegulationSafety Standards General Regulation
CSA B149.2 Propane Storage and Handling Code
CSA B149.1 Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code
BC Building Code 2018