DEEP: Recycling Propane Grill Tanks

Recycling Propane Grill Tanks

{gas grill} Propane-fueled gas grills are being sold at a record pace for outdoor home cooking. Sales have out-paced charcoal, electric, and natural gas combined. Gas grill tanks are only fueled with LP-gas. Tanks are stamped with a manufactured date that indicates the start of its 12-year life span. Many tanks are now older than 12 years and no longer fit for use. Others have valves that no longer fit on newer grills. A new federal requirement based on the National fire Protection Association standard 58 (NFPA 58), effective April 1, 2002, prohibits tanks without an overfill prevention device (OPD) from being filled. However, this federal standard was not accepted by the Connecticut State Legislature. Thus, Connecticut is still under the old version of NFPA 58. This means that you may have your tank refilled even if it does not have an OPD. However, because of liability issues, most marketers and dealers are refusing to refill tanks without an OPD.

Most people are taking their tanks to their local propane dealer or supplier where their old tanks are recovered. Do not expect to receive a "deposit". If reusable, the tanks are then repainted, re-certified and installed with an OPD. If you are an individual looking for a disposal option for a spent tank, refer to marketers and dealers at the end of this fact sheet.  If you are an individual, please also observe the following safety precautions:

  • Do not throw your tank in the trash.
  • Do not attempt to remove the valve from your tank.
  • Take empty tanks to a municipal collection program, if available.
  • Save for HHW collection, if tanks are accepted in your program.

If you are a transfer station that collects or transports propane tanks, please read on for more detailed information about how to safely manage and transport this item.

What Is Propane?

Propane, or liquefied petroleum (LP-gas), a fossil fuel, is one of the nation’s most versatile sources of energy and supplies 3 to 4% of our total energy. Propane is an approved, alternate clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. Propane can be either a liquid or a gas. At normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, it is a non-toxic, colorless and odorless gas. Under moderate pressure, propane becomes a liquid that vaporizes into a clean-burning gas when released from its storage container. Just like natural gas, an identifying odor is added so it can be readily detected.

Hazards

The issues surrounding the 20-pound propane tanks used for home grilling have to do with disposal recycling of the cylinders or tanks that are no longer serviceable. All previously used propane tanks have some amount of gas left in them. Because propane is a hazardous material, it must be handled or disposed of properly. Tanks containing fuel under pressure may explode if tank integrity is altered. This may cause severe injury or death. Tanks containing compressed gas may explode in waste-to-energy facilities.

Handling / Storage and other Management Options

The following measures should be taken when handling spent propane tanks.

  • Do Not Attempt To Remove Valve From Tank. Special safety equipment is required to prevent explosion. Removal of valves involves costly equipment and extensive training to meet the requirements set out in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 58 1-5 (Qualifications of Personnel) and 4-2.2.1 (Emergency Response Procedures).
  • Use up all residual gas, for non-refillable (disposable) tanks.
  • Do not leave valve open, because escaping gas is a fire hazard as well as a source of air pollution.
  • When storing tanks, store outside in an area where they are least likely to suffer from physical damage or tampering (NFPA 58 5-2.1.1). Keep separate from other collected items. Tanks should always be stored in an upright position. Never store tanks on their side or upside down.
  • Do Not Put An Obsolete Tank Into a Dumpster or Other Disposal Container.  It can pose a serious safety concern if the trash truck compacts its load, as it could crush and rupture the cylinder, releasing the rest of the propane. This could create an explosion hazard.
  • Avoid cutting the tank with a torch or cutting wheel. The tank may still contain propane and create a potential fire and explosion hazard.  
  • Scrap metal yards may take unwanted tanks, but they face the same issues and problems. They are also faced with very high explosion risk and damage costs should one of these tanks get into their system.

Transporting Tanks

  • Tanks must be secured on a flat surface or in racks, and in an upright position to minimize movement to each other or the vehicle. Tanks shall be determined to be leak free before loading into vehicle (NFPA 58 6-2.2.6).
  • The maximum number of tanks that can be transported without special licensing or placarding the transporting vehicle is 25 standard grill tanks. NFPA 58 6-2.2.8 states that vehicles transporting more than 1,000 pounds of LP-Gas, including the weight of the tanks, shall be placarded as required by Department of Transportation regulations or state law.
  • When transporting any more than 25 tanks, the transporting vehicle must be placarded with the international propane symbol (1075). All placarded vehicles must be driven by an individual who holds a commercial drivers license with a hazardous materials (Hazmat) endorsement. All the requirements of NFPA 58, as well as additional requirements set forth by the Federal Department of Transportation apply in this case.

More Information

National Propane Gas Association – www.npga.org
National Fire Protection Agency – http://www.nfpa.org/

Disposal Information

Check the following list for a company that will take tanks or check the Yellow Page listings under Gas-Propane. Most companies will charge a small fee. While DEEP does not endorse any particular company, the following is a list of Connecticut companies that do dispose of homeowner propane tanks.

Tank Recycling Companies

Blue Rhino of New England recycles and re-certifies old grill tanks for return to the marketplace. Blue Rhino can be found at Lowes, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, on the web, or at 1-888-753-7159.

BANTAM
Bantam Fuel
99 Bantam Lake Road
(860) 567-9431

GLASTONBURY
Beamer Petroleum
210 Commerce Street
(860) 659-3515

ORANGE
Taylor Rental Center
304 Boston Post Road
(203) 795-5251

WATERBURY
Hocon Gas Inc.
20 Railroad Hill Street
(203) 754-7601

BRISTOL
AmeriGas
651 Middle Street
(203) 589-8071

JEWETT CITY
Griswold Bottled Gas
91 B Slater Ave.
(860) 376-2983

PLAINVILLE
The Home Gas Corp.
Townline Road
(860) 747-9868

WATERFORD
Amerigas
52 Lower Bartlett Road
(860) 848-9277

CHESHIRE
Hines Hardware
231 Maple Ave.
(860) 272-4063

LITCHFIELD
AmeriGas
Route 202
(203) 567-0601

SOUTH NORWALK
Hocon Gas Inc.
33 Rockland Road
(203) 853-1500

 

COLCHESTER
AmeriGas
275 South Main Street
(860) 537-5925

MANCHESTER
Northeast Tank Disposal
23 Electric Street
(860) 649-2755

SOUTH WINDSOR
Propane Gas Service
420 John Fitch Blvd. 
Rt 5
(860) 289-0267

 

DANBURY
Norbert E. Mitchell Co.
7 Federal Road
(203) 744-0600

MILFORD
Techair
35 Eastern Steel Road
(203) 783-1834

STRATFORD
CT Oxygen Corp.
120 South Road
(860) 377-1414

 

DANBURY
Techair
50 Mill Plain Road
(203) 792-1834

NEW BRITAIN
Techair
251-B Whiting Street
(860) 229-1834

TRUMBULL
Rural Gas Company
7176 Main Street
(203) 261-3641

 

DANBURY
Federal Road Sunoco
7 Federal Road
(203) 748-9438

NEW MILFORD
Park Lane Sunoco
44 Park Lane Road
(860) 354-1585

UNCASVILLE
Suburban Energy Services
262 Gallivan Lane
(860) 848-5510

DERBY
Suburban Energy Services
100 Water Street
(203) 734-2503

NORWALK
Hocon Propane Gas
33 Rockland Road
(203) 853-1500

WINDSOR
Suburban Energy Services
90 Macktown Road
(860) 298-7950

EAST HAVEN
Garganos Sales and Service
54 Hemingway Ave.
(203) 467-5903

ORANGE
Orange Town Refuse Center
Orange Center Road
(203) 795-5128

WATERBURY
Schmidt & Serafine’s
464 Chase Ave.
(203) 754-5186


Content Last Updated on May 29, 2013