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We get questions from time to time from people curious about rules and regulations that apply to propane tanks. Some aspects of propane tanks are subject to parts of our requirements at DNREC, but not all. Here is a collection of notes, links and guidance to our requirements and those of other agencies, based on our experience answering those questions.
State Fire Marshal
The Office of the State Fire Marshall requires submission of a tank plan for propane tanks (except those that service 1-family or 2-family dwellings). Plans are reviewed with primary focus on clearance distances, physical protection, and operational safeguards when propane tanks are used to service community gas systems, commercial buildings, bulk storage tank sites and installations, retail re-fill stations, and cylinder exchange programs.
The Office regulates propane tanks that service other uses through compliance at plan review stage and final inspection (upon completion of the installation).
The Office requires compliance with the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard for the Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gases (NFPA 58) through a construction permitting program.
The Office’s Investigation Division performs any investigations of explosions or fire.
Delaware State Fire Prevention Regulations (1 DE Admin. Code 700)
There are no registration or operation and maintenance requirements for propane tanks under the Aboveground Storage Tank Program. Aboveground storage tanks containing propane are subject to release and to leak reporting, release investigation and response, and corrective action requirements in Part E of the Aboveground Storage Tank Regulations.
Propane is not considered a regulated substance under Delaware’s Underground Storage Tank Program.
Delaware’s Boiler Safety Program does not regulate pressure vessels that are under the control of the State Fire Marshal, the Department of Transportation, or on privately owned property.
Aboveground Storage Tanks Regulations (7 DE Admin. Code 1352)
State Emergency Response Commission
Propane can be covered by hazardous chemical inventory reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA). This applies to situations where the owner/operator is required to have Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for substances under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.
Facilities must provide initial notice, and annual reports with amounts, locations, emergency contacts, etc., to support emergency planning and response activities.
The threshold for hazardous chemicals in Delaware is 55 gallons or 500 pounds, but defaults to a federal 10,000 pound threshold when a substance is used solely for building heating purposes at a facility.
Exemptions can apply, including an exemption for substances in the same form and concentration as product packaged for use by the general public, which exempts propane grill tanks.
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (16 Del. Code, Chapter 63)
Emergency Prevention and Response Regulations (7 DE Admin. Code 1200)
Accidental Release Prevention Program
Under Delaware’s Accidental Release Prevention Program, when the actual quantity of propane is greater than or equal to the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds, a responsible person or persons must submit and implement a Risk Management Plan (RMP) and may need to pay an annual fee.
Extremely Hazardous Substances Risk Management Act (7 Del. Code, Chapter 77)
Accidental Release Prevention Regulation (7 DE Admin. Code 1201)
Environmental Complaints and Emergency Response
DNREC’s Emergency Response Branch, and the Environmental Crimes Unit, responds to reports of releases of propane. They will take appropriate action to resolve the emergency situation and investigate each incident, if needed.
Propane is considered a flammable substance under state regulations, with a reportable quantity of 1,000 pounds. Any person causing or contributing to a release must report the release immediately while activating the facility’s emergency site plan. Reporting to the Department may be in person or by phone and has to include an estimate of the quantity released, the time and location of the release, the media affected, any known health risks, and proper precautions to take including evacuation, and contact information. The Department may require the person reporting to send in a written report within 30 days.
Reporting of a Discharge of a Pollutant or Air Contaminant (7 DE Admin. Code 1203)
A number of requirements under parts of the state’s Commerce and Trade laws apply to propane storage tanks.
Owners of a residence must inform their propane company that they plan to sell their home at least 30 days before settlement.
The propane company must provide the buyer a copy of the service agreement 15 days before settlement.
If the propane company doesn’t provide the buyer a copy of the service agreement, the propane company is required to remove the tank at their expense within 30 days after settlement.
There are additional requirements that are triggered when a propane company sells the equipment at a home to another propane company.
6 Del. Code, Ch. 21, Ch. 25, Ch. 27, and Ch. 34