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

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

1 Chapter 1: Propane tank requirements (1:32)
2

Chapter 2: Does your tank meet legal requirements? (1:07)

3 Chapter 3: Safety hazards and assessment categories (3:58)
4 Chapter 4: Do you have a qualified service provider and operating permit? (0:53)
5 Chapter 5: Summary of key points (0:57)

What Propane Suppliers Need to Know

1 Chapter 1: Propane tank requirements (1:23)
5 Chapter 2: Do your tanks meet legal requirements? (0:46)
2 Chapter 3: Safety hazards and assessment categories (4:48)
3 Chapter 4: Do your tanks have operating permits? (0:25)
4 Chapter 5: Summary of key points (1:11)

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.

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.

Who should take out an operating permit?

The propane tank owner should take out the operating permit.

Responsibilities of the operating permit holder

  • Applying and paying for the permit, including annual renewals.
  • 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.

    Click here for a quick reference guide on your respsonibilities as an asset owner.

Who can work on a propane storage tank?

It’s important to note that for any propane tank, regardless of whether it has a MAWP of 200 psig or not, only individuals with certain qualifications can perform particular types of work: 

Type of Work Who can do the work
In-service inspection An individual who has successfully completed an inspection training program with proper documentation and validation such as a “training certificate”.
Routine maintenance, limited to:
  • Removal of debris
  • Replacement of rain hoods or covers
  • Relabeling or branding by propane supplier
  • Painting (including surface preparation)
An individual holding an operating permit or an employee of the operating permit holder.
Replacement of accessories (fittings, pressure relief valves, gauges etc.) An individual holding either an active Class A or B Gasfitter Certificate of Qualification while working under a valid Gas Contractor Licence.

 

Evacuating or transferring liquid or vapour propane from a container An individual trained and certified as required in CSA B149.2 Propane Storage and Handling Code section 5.2.1. The certificate of training type must be recognized by a provincial safety manager.
Repair (welding, etc.) An individual holding a valid Class A or Au Contractor Licence under the Power Engineers, Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Refrigeration Safety Regulation

Talk to your propane supplier about maintenane or click here to find a licensed gas contractor.

Process to apply for an operating permit

  1. Tank owners complete an Operating Permit Application for Propane Pressure Vessels (Form 1509 on BCSA’s website Forms & Fees) and email it to propane@safetyauthority.ca, or call 778-396-2033 for assistance.
  2. After submitting the application, owners with more than five tanks or with tanks in more than one location will be emailed a spreadsheet with the required data fields to complete. The data required will include - but is not limited to - the information on the tank's name plate and the tank location.
  3. Tank owners will be contacted if further clarification or information is required.
  4. Tank owners will receive an invoice (annually) listing all of their units.
  5. Once payment is processed, an operating permit will be issued. For tanks that are eligible for the fee waiver (see below) an operating permit will be issued after the permit application is processed.

Fees

Propane tank owners are required to pay an annual fee under one of the following fee models:

Standard permit fees: An annual fee is applicable to each tank and will be based on its physical dimensions. Please refer to Tables 1 and 2 below.

Alternative permit fees: Large operators or suppliers may apply to submit a Safety Management Plan as an alternative method to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Safety Standards Act, associated regulations and adopted codes. Fees will vary based on the scope of their operations. Please see the Alternative Safety Approaches (ASA) section of our website for more information.

If you rent or lease a propane tank, your tank supplier may or may not pass along various fees. We encourage all propane users to understand these fee models and contact their propane tank supplier if they have any questions about their fees.

Fee Waiver (applicable to both the standard and ASA models)

 

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: 2017 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 $28 $42 $66 $84 $108 $129
1 - 2 M $39 $53 $77 $95 $119 $140
2 - 3 M $55 $69 $93 $111 $135 $156
3 - 4 M $66 $80 $104 $122 $146 $167
4 - 5 M $76 $90 $114 $132 $156 $177
  > 5 M $92 $106 $130 $148 $172 $193

Table 2: 2016 and 2017 Tank Volumetric-based Operating Permit Fees (in US water gallons)

 Volume Operating Permit Fee
2017
  ≤ 500 USWG* $28
  501 - 999 USWG* $28
 1,000 to 1,999 USWG* $39
 ≥ 2,000 USWG Dimensions required

*  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.

Fees may change annually. Please visit the Fees section of our website for current fee information.

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.

Servicing and inspection intervals

Click here to find out about the servicing and inspection intervals for your propane storage tank and pressure relief valve and to find out more about BCSA’s Directive No. D-BP-2016-01.

Can your 200 psig propane tank remain in operation? 

Propane tanks with a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAWP) of 200 psig (1380 kPa) need to meet certain requirements to remain in operation. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The tank must have been inspected by a qualified individual and deemed safe within five years immediately before November 1, 2017.
  • The tank must be fitted with a pressure relief valve with a maximum set pressure of 250 psig and a minimum relieving capacity according to the National Fire Protection Association – 58 – Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code (NFPA-58). 

Specific requirements

For tanks manufactured according to paragraph U60 or U69 of the 1949 (or earlier) edition of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section VIII Division 1:

  • The tank is permitted to remain in operation only at its present location and shall not be moved and operated elsewhere. 

For tanks manufactured according to paragraph U200 or U201 of the 1949 (or earlier) edition of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section VIII Division 1:

  • The tank shall be re-rated according to NB-23 National Board Inspection Code to increase the MAWP from 200 to 250 psig. Re-rating documents including revised calculations, inspection records, and other required documents shall be submitted to BCSA for registration before November 1, 2017.

Compliance with these requirements is needed on or before November 1, 2017. Non-compliance will lead to the removal of these tanks from operation on or before May 1, 2018.

Contact information

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

Propane Forms

Printable Version
 Information brochure for owners and operators of propane pressure vessels in BC