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Cargo tank rule changes eased

October 1, 2003 By    

New cargo tank rules won’t cause as much trouble as previously feared. The Research & Special Programs Administration revised rules it issued last spring covering motor vehicle transport of hazmat. RSPA acted at the request of several organizations, including the National Propane Gas Association, which complained of costs and lack of clarity in the new rules.

RSPA dropped a requirement that NPGA complained would cost too much: a new leak test requirement to be performed at at least 80 percent of design pressure marked on the cargo tank after pipe, hose and valve changes that don’t involve welding.

The original rules revised some road clearance and bottom damage protection changes, required MC 338 cargo tanks to come with thermal activation to automatically close the internal stop valve in fires and mandated controls for internal shut-off valves for discharged systems on new tanks.

In its clarification, RSPA dropped new requirements for cargo tanks, saying that the issue needs more study. It also removed the new requirement “for a shear section to break at no more than 70 percent of the load that would be required to cause the failure of the protected lading retention device, part or wall.”

The agency clarified a requirement that design-certifying engineers certify accident damage protection devices to state that it only applies to “rear-end protection, overturn protection, and piping protection devices” and only when attached to a cargo tank motor vehicle.

The revision also deletes the ban on using stainless steel in internal cargo tank components such as shutoff discs and springs, and it deletes the obligations to put a cargo tank’s original test pressure on the nameplate and to include maximum loading and unloading rates on MC 331 specification plates.

RSPA did deny the request to redefine “manufacturer.” Instead, it promised to consider the change in a future rule making.

The new rules take effect Oct. 1 and make other technical corrections. Details are in the Sept. 3 Federal Register.

In a separate rule making, RSPA revised hazmat regulations to reduce regulatory burdens. Details are in the Aug. 14 Federal Register.

In Brief

Grading appliances

The Federal Trade Commission has changed the appliance labeling rule for ranges of comparability for standard dishwashers, effective Nov. 10. But it kept the same ranges for compact dishwashers, central air conditioners and heat pumps. Details are in the Aug. 11 Federal Register.

Meanwhile, the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy has changed the test procedure for dishwashers used in homes. Manufacturers will have to list standby power consumption in estimated costs and energy use calculations. The rule revises the number of cycles per year used for estimating costs based on new consumer survey data. Details are in the Aug. 29 Federal Register.

Educating the public

The American Petroleum Institute plans to issue its final recommended practice on public awareness programs for pipeline operators this fall, and RSPA says it may incorporate it into regulations. RSPA is developing an on-line, self-assessment that operators can use to identify gaps in their public education programs and comply with the required review by the Dec. 17 deadline. Details are in the Sept. 5 Federal Register.

PERC oversight

The departments of Commerce and Energy need to step up their oversight of the Propane Education & Research Council, says the General Accounting Office. Commerce officials said they didn’t know that they were required to file reports on propane prices and PERC’s effectiveness. See the GAO findings at and look for report GAO-03-762.

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