Are you an owner or operator of a propane pressure vessel in BC?

Due to the safety risk, BC Safety Authority (BCSA) is reminding owners of propane storage tanks that an operating permit is required for each tank in BC.

Please refer to Operating Permit Requirements for Propane Pressure Vessels (BCSA Directive #D-BP-2015-01), issued on June 22, 2015, which clarifies the requirement for a person who owns a propane tank that is in operation in British Columbia to obtain an operating permit from BCSA. 

Here you will find information on your responsibilities as an owner or operator, and the steps to follow to obtain an operating permit if you do not already have one.

Safety Tips for Propane Tank Owners

What Propane Suppliers Need to Know

Which propane storage tanks require an operating permit?

All propane storage tanks in operation (e.g., pressurized above 15 pounds per square inch gauge - psig) require an operating permit.  Common sizes of propane storage tanks currently available vary from 120 US water gallons (USWG) up to 1000 USWG; however, tanks may be constructed for other capacities.

Propane cylinders (e.g., used with barbecues, small heating equipment, and recreation vehicles) are subject to Transport Canada regulations and do not require a BCSA operating permit. For more details, see the ‘Transportation of Dangerous Goods – Containers’ section under ‘Safety’ on Transport Canada’s website.

Who should take out an operating permit?

The propane tank owner should take out the operating permit.

What are some of the responsibilities of the operating permit holder?

  • Applying and paying for the permit, including annual renewals. (see ‘Fee Waiver’ on page 2).
  • Complying with the terms and conditions of the operating permit.
  • Ensuring the permit is in place before using, operating or performing work on the tank.
  • Ensuring all regulated work is done by individuals with the appropriate certification who are employed by either a company with a valid gas contractor’s licence or, where applicable, an establishment with a valid operating permit allowing regulated work.
  • On completion of an assessment by a safety officer, BCSA will advise the operating permit holder of any safety issue or  code  non-compliance. The permit holder must then correct the issue or non-compliance and advise BCSA.

Who is qualified to maintain a propane tank and service the pressure relief devices?

Individuals employed by a company with a valid gas contractor’s licence and who hold a valid and appropriate Certificate of Qualification recognized by a BCSA provincial safety manager in order to:

  • transfer propane from one container to another (e.g., adding, removing, dispensing or defueling);
  • inspect, maintain, service or remove tank components, including pressure relief devices; and
  • connect or disconnect gas systems to propane containers.

Talk to your propane supplier about maintenance or find a licensed gas contractor on BCSA’s website under ‘Find a Contractor’.

What is the process to apply for an operating permit?

  1. Complete an Operating Permit Application for Propane Pressure Vessels (Form 1509 on BCSA’s website Forms & Fees). Email it to propane@safetyauthority.ca, or call 778-396-2033 for assistance.
  2. You will receive an electronic spreadsheet from BCSA with the data fields to complete for all of your propane pressure vessel units.  The data required will include - but is not limited to - the information on the name plate of your tank(s) as well as the location of each tank.
  3. Complete the electronic spreadsheet and email it to propane@safetyauthority.ca.
  4. You will be contacted if further clarification or information is required.
  5. You will receive an invoice (annually) listing all of your units.
  6. Once payment is submitted and processed, you will be issued an operating permit.

2016 Propane Pressure Vessel Annual Operating Permit Fees

Fee Waiver

The operating permit fee will be automatically waived for tanks equal to or less than 500 USWG, regardless of purpose or use. For tanks over 500 USWG that are used for residential purposes only, owners can apply for a waiver.

 ‘Residential purposes’ applies to any tank in which propane is stored to provide fuel to a structure used primarily as a private residence but does not include a hotel. A hotel is defined in the Hotel Guest Registration Act as an inn or building in which private rooms are maintained for the accommodation of the public.

If safety concerns or non-compliances are discovered that require safety officers to revisit a site, re-assessment fees may still apply to cover costs.

Regardless of whether the fee is waived or not, all owners of tanks that are in operation and pressurized above 15 psig are required to apply for a permit and provide their tank data to BCSA.

Table 1: Tank Dimension-based Operating Permit Fees

Diameter

Length

< 5 M

5 - 10 M

10 - 15 M

15 - 20 M

20 - 25 M

> 25 M

  < 1 M

$27

$41

$64

$82

$105

$125

1 - 2 M

$38

$52

$75

$93

$116

$136

2 - 3 M

$53

$67

$90

$108

$131

$151

3 - 4 M

$64

$78

$101

$119

$142

$162

4 - 5 M

$74

$88

$111

$129

$152

$172

  > 5 M

$89

$103

$126

$144

$167

$187

Table 2: Tank Volumetric-based Operating Permit Fees (in US water gallons)

 Volume Operating Permit Fee
 < 500 USWG* $27
  501 - 999 USWG* $27
 1,000 to 1,999 USWG* $38
 ≥ 2,000 USWG Dimensions req'd.

*  For reference, if tank dimensions are unavailable for tanks less than 2,000 USWG, Table 2 assumes:

  • 250 and 500 USWG tanks: diameter < 39.4” (= 1 M) and length < 197” (= 5 M)
  • 1,000 USWG tanks: diameter 39.4” to 78.8” (= 1 – 2 M) and length < 197” (= 5 M)
  • Dimensions must be provided for tanks < 2,000 USWG with non-standard dimensions, or tanks ≥ 2,000 USWG.

How does BCSA provide oversight to propane vessels?

To help clients ensure that their tanks meet safety standards, BCSA will utilize a risk-based, sample and audit approach to identify areas of greatest safety concern. Our Accident Prevention Model includes:

  • Assessment via sample inspections and audits of tank maintenance records.
  • Education, such as providing information and videos on propane equipment safety.
  • Enforcement to ensure that propane equipment is properly installed, maintained and safe.
  • Research into incidents involving propane.

Why is this important?         

Since 2004, BC law requires all pressure vessel owners to have a permit to use this type of equipment. In particular, when this equipment is used to store large quantities of combustible fuel, such as propane, there is an inherent safety risk involved to owners and the surrounding public and property.

An operating permit is required for propane tanks in order for BCSA to provide safety oversight. Having this data enables us to assess hazards and effectively communicate important safety information to owners so that they can protect themselves, their equipment and those around them. Get a better understanding about hazards around propane tanks.

Questions about operating permits or the application process?

Please contact us at propane@safetyauthority.ca or 778-396-2033.

Propane Forms

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Guidance document for owners and operators of propane pressure vessels in BC