Nurse Tank Testing Update

Nurse Tank Testing UpdateLate last year the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) asked that an effort be made by the ag industry to get the word out on the importance of testing of non-data plate anhydrous/nurse tanks. As a DOT cargo tank inspector, I have been involved from the inception of this program.

The original request for an exemption came from The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) after DOT’s enforcement of several nurse tanks near Washington, DC, without legible data plates. These tanks were disallowed from further service because they were not in compliance. After several surveys, the industry discovered that as many as one-third of the tanks currently in use were without legible data plates.

Consequently, a committee was assembled by TFI and an exemption was requested and approved to continue the use of these tanks. The Nurse Tank Inspection Program (NTIP) requires visual, thickness, and pressure tests.

For this article, I will address this issue from four different perspectives:
â–  DOT’s recent concerns.
â–  TFI’s important contribution.
â–  Schoettmer Enterprises Inc.’s tank testing experience.
â–  Southern States Cooperative’s results.

DOT Concerns

This is an excerpt from a letter sent from R. Ryan Posten, director of the Office of Hazardous Materials Enforcement:

“To all anhydrous ammonia/nurse tank owners, fillers, transporters, repair stations, welders, inspectors and related associations:

Based on eight recent enforcement investigations conducted by the U.S. DOT, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Office of Hazardous Ma­terials Enforcement (OHME), this letter is intended to notify the industry of serious safety problems and non-compliance issues regarding the maintenance, filling, transport, and use of nurse tanks in anhydrous ammonia service. PHMSA is greatly concerned with the lack of compliance and understanding of the minimum safety requirements for nurse tanks based on its investigations. PHMSA recognizes the breadth of the nurse tank industry. In order to magnify its safety and compliance efforts, PHMSA feels this letter will help increase awareness and provide a means of contact for questions about the prescribed safety requirements.

In all of the investigations, PHMSA Hazmat investigators noted a similar pattern of non-compliance and safety problems.”

TFI Involvement

In 2004, TFI applied to PHMSA, and was granted a special permit for nurse tanks without the required ASME identification plate to remain in transportation so long as certain tests were performed and passed. Those tests, contained in SP-13554, are an external visual test, a pressure test, and a thickness test. All tests must be conducted every five years.

Nurse tank owners and operators in the fertilizer industry take seriously anhydrous ammonia safety and comply with all applicable hazardous materials regulations pertaining to the transportation of anhydrous ammonia. Since the issuance of the special permit, more than 12,000 nurse tanks with missing or illegible identification plates have been tested with over 300 taken out of service for failure of one or more of the required tests. TFI has established an industry Web-based program to register tanks and maintain inspection reports. This program is administered by the Asmark Institute in Owensboro, KY.

Schoettmer’s Tank Testing Experience

To date, Schoettmer Enterprises has tested more than 1,400 tanks. All ag retailers want to be compliant with anhydrous ammonia hazardous materials regulations. Upon understanding the safety value of this testing, some retailers want to test all of their nurse tanks, not just the tanks required under the exemption.

The visual test looks for obvious problems such as dents, deep gouges, and welds that were obviously performed by non r-stamp welders.

The thickness test gets actual metal thickness in 32 different locations on tanks. As I have performed these inspections, as a rule, the older tanks were constructed with thicker metal. The tanks built in the last few years are thinner, and a gouge is more likely to put them out of service. However, if they have a good data plate, gouges can be repaired.

The most important test performed on nurse tanks is the pressure test. After completely filling them with water, 375 pounds of water pressure is applied to the tank for 10 minutes. On the inspections I have performed, several tanks have sprayed water out of weld seams in various locations of the tank. Other tank inspectors have reported a complete failure of a weld with the tank emptying all of its water. These are the tanks that could have caused personal injury. Thankfully, with water testing procedures, nobody gets hurt. Two out of 1,000 tanks I have tested failed the pressure test.

During the three tests performed, non-working pressure gauges, leaking site gauges, and a relatively high number of non-working excess flow valves are the most common areas of concern.

My experiences with retailers show their understanding and commitment to keeping valuable industry tools available in the future. Initially there may be skepticism as to the necessity of testing tanks; upon leaving, the employees at the testing locations clearly have a renewed appreciation for safety within the industry. I leave these locations with a shared sense of accomplishment.

Southern States’ Experience

Jordan Pigman, safety coordinator with Southern States Cooperative Inc., says: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, farmers, and the communities we serve. At Southern States Cooperative, our ammonia facilities follow a detailed nurse tank inspection guideline to ensure tank safety and compliance with industry regulations. And we constantly search for methods to improve.

“After learning about the NTIP and working with Cliff Schoettmer, it validated the methods used and made sure the integrity and safety of nurse tanks was and is followed,” he says.

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories
EquipmentTop 30 IRON WORKS Cartoons Of All Time
April 29, 2015
When CropLife IRON first started publishing more than a decade ago, long-time Publisher Al Strohmaier decided to start a cartoon Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More