Understanding Propane Tank Operating Permits

Storing, transporting and handling propane is governed by several federal, provincial and territorial acts and regulations. In British Columbia, equipment utilizing propane such as pressure vessels, piping systems, refrigeration systems and gas systems are considered regulated products subject to provincial legislation including, but not limited to, the Safety Standards Act (the Act), referenced regulations and adopted codes and standards.

Applicable BC legislation

Regulations referenced by the Act include the Safety Standards General Regulation, the Power Engineers, Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Refrigeration Safety Regulation (the Boiler Regulation) and the Gas Safety Regulation (the Gas Regulation).

Codes and standards adopted under the regulations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • CSA B51 Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Pressure Piping Code
  • CSA B149.1 Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code
  • CSA B149.2 Propane Storage and Handling Code

When is an operating permit required?

Technical Safety BC Directive D-BP-2015-01 dated June 22, 2015, clarifies the requirement for owners of propane tanks in operation in British Columbia to obtain an operating permit from Technical Safety BC. Propane tanks are considered to be in operation when the internal pressure of the tank exceeds 15 psig. The source of pressure in the tank may be from any means and includes, but is not limited to:  testing, purging, initial filling with propane, re-filling with propane or an increase in pressure due to an increase in temperature.

Operating Permits are not required for any of the following:

  • new tanks that have been manufactured, but have not been placed into operation
  • propane tanks that have been permanently removed from service
  • pressure vessels subject to the jurisdiction of Transport Canada under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (Canada)
  • pressure vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the Canada Shipping Act,
  • propane cylinders, as defined by CSA B149.2, Section 3
  • any other pressure vessel exempted under Section 3 of the Boiler Regulation.

What are a propane pressure vessel owner’s responsibilities?

The legislation places responsibility for compliance on a person who owns, operates or maintains regulated equipment. In order to be in compliance with the Act and Regulations, a person must ensure that an operating permit is in place for a propane pressure vessel, prior to operating or maintaining that propane pressure vessel.

Responsibilities of a permit holder include, but are not limited to:

  • complying with the terms and conditions of the permit
  • ensuring that individuals who do regulated work under the permit maintain current knowledge of this Act, relevant regulations, relevant directives and safety orders
  • ensuring that individuals who do regulated work under the permit are also authorized under this Act
  • correcting any non-compliances that have been identified on a certificate of inspection that has been issued to the permit holder by a safety officer.

Who is authorized to do work on a propane pressure vessel?

Regulated work with a propane container may only be performed by an establishment with an appropriate gas operating permit in good standing with Technical Safety BC by qualified individuals.

Regulated work with a propane container must only be performed by qualified individuals under a gas contractor licence or an establishment with the appropriate gas operating permit in good standing with Technical Safety BC. Qualified individuals must be employed by a licensed gas contractor and must hold a valid certificate of qualification recognized by a provincial safety manager in order to do any of the following:

  • Transferring propane from one container to another, e.g. adding, removing, dispensing or defueling
  • Inspecting, maintaining, servicing or removing components related to the propane container, including pressure relief devices
  • Connecting or disconnecting gas systems to propane containers 

When are these requirements in effect?

Directive D-BP-2015-01 includes the following important dates:

  • August 1, 2015 - Technical Safety BC commenced administration of this regulatory requirement by processing permit applications and issuing operating permits for propane tanks
  • February 1, 2016 - Technical Safety BC will commence enforcement of the regulatory requirement to obtain an operating permit from Technical Safety BC by any person who owns a propane tank that is in operation in the Province of British Columbia.

Technical Safety BC may take enforcement action at any time to prevent, avoid or reduce the risk of personal injury or damage to property.

Questions?

Please refer to Directive D-BP-2015-01 for the specific definitions of equipment included and what you are required to do to become compliant.  If you are unsure, or have any questions related to propane containers, you can e-mail propane@technicalsafetybc.ca.

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