On Thursday September 2, 2010, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) was notified by the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal s Office that they had discovered DCP Midstream s propane facility in Westfield, Massachusetts had possibly supplied non-odorized and/or under odorized propane to multiple distributors throughout New England and New York.
This Safety Alert has been prepared in cooperation with the Department of State Division of Code Enforcement and Administration and is distributed to notify the fire service, propane suppliers, and the general public on the issues associated with propane and safeguards to ensure that the threat is minimized.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG, commonly referred to as propane) is an odorless gas that, without the mixture of an odorizer, is difficult to detect without meters or alarms. LPG is flammable at a minimum of 2% mixture with air, can displace oxygen in high quantities, and is heavier than air
The subject LPG facility has been distributing LPG since May 7, 2010.
LPG initially purchased from other locations is not currently subject to this Safety Alert.
The subject LPG facility does not conduct retail sales to the general public. Rather, it provides product to other dealers that then either resell the LPG to retail suppliers or to the general public.
The New York State Propane Gas Association is working proactively to inform interested parties of the situation, and advising them to analyze their existing LPG supplies.
For Fire Departments:
The distinctive odor of LPG may not be present, or may be diminished, thereby making recognition that LPG is actually present within a particular situation (I.E. a pilot light out or a pipe leak) difficult.
However, the lack of, or reduction in, odorant, should not have any impact on a properly calibrated meter. Fire Departments should review their meter operations manual on proper calibration and conversion factors for combustible gas monitoring specific to LPG.
Fire departments are advised to treat all LPG emergencies as high-concentration leaks, wearing full PPE and SCBA with appropriate firefighting equipment until the leak can be quantified with properly calibrated meters.
Due to the varying uses of the gas and quantities of consumers, LPG that may lack the proper level of odorant
may be in consumer fixed and portable tanks for the foreseeable future.
This is not a condition that will go away in a finite amount of time.
For Code Enforcement Officials:
Ensure that LPG suppliers within your jurisdiction are aware of this Safety Alert.
In cases where LPG suppliers within your jurisdiction have non-odorized or under odorized LPG, distribution must cease from that location until the LPG can be odorized in accordance with the Fire Code of New York State and NFPA 58, Chapter 4. Testing for the appropriate levels of odorant (ethyl mercaptan) is done qualitatively by a sniff test and/or quantitatively by a stain tube test.
In cases were non-odorized product is identified and voluntary compliance is not achieved, facility closure requirements are found within Chapter 27 of the Fire Code of New York State and the situation may qualify for revocation of the operating permit if so issued by the local jurisdiction.
Questions or concerns regarding code enforcement practices may be directed to the Department of State, Division of Code Enforcement and Administration at (518) 474-4073.