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

Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying Concerns
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More
Forbes Mixing Bowl NYC
Precision AgGrowing Demand For High Tech Agriculture Sparking Discussion
March 3, 2017
How can information technology be best harnessed to solve challenges in food and agriculture? That’s a question being asked more Read More
Junge Innovation Center
EquipmentAg Retail Plants Adapt Designs, Software
March 2, 2017
A host of factors could be cited for “the rise of the machines” in ag retail plants — and the Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationARA: Sonny Perdue Confirmation Delay Simply A Paperwork…
March 9, 2017
It’s been seven weeks since the White House named former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) as the nominee for the next Read More
Storage Tank The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons To Sell Farm Center Locations In Florida
March 8, 2017
The Andersons, Inc. has signed an agreement to sell its farm center locations in Florida to Wedgworth’s Inc., of Belle Read More
Nebraska landscape Photo courtesy of Richard Hurd
ManagementNebraska Water: Another Opportunity To Sell Value
March 8, 2017
Keith Byerly has been an Advanced Cropping Systems (ACS) Manager with York, NE-headquartered, No. 13-ranked CropLife 100 retailer Central Valley Read More