Ammonia Contaminates Propane Deliveries

Domestic propane tanks in Southwest Missouri are being replaced after propane deliveries were accidentally contaminated with ammonia. (image:

Propane companies in Southwest Missouri are replacing customers’ gas tanks after propane deliveries were accidentally contaminated with ammonia, reports.

The concerns emerged after a trucking company failed to properly clean a tanker that had previously been used to haul anhydrous ammonia, a liquid chemical frequently used as fertilizer. The tanker was then contracted by two Missouri gas distributors to make liquid propane deliveries last month. The problem is thought to have affected about 200 customers.

The Missouri Propane Gas Commission (MPGC) issued an order after the contamination came to light requiring the propane companies to replace any damaged piping, fittings or valves to ensure the safety of affected customers.

“We have notified the companies who received a contaminated load that they must ensure the affected consumers discontinue use of unvented gas appliances and gas ranges,” said Denny Carroll, executive director of MPGC. “Both retail companies have voluntarily begun clean up and are working diligently to resolve this issue.”

Ammonia may be corrosive to brass and copper, reports. Brass is often used in valves on propane systems. There is also an inhalation concern because ammonia can act as a pulmonary irritant, especially to those with pre-existing lung conditions. While the amount of ammonia contamination was small, the commission said it was acting with an “abundance of caution.”

Carroll said the companies that delivered the tainted gas were providing fresh tanks to their customers and sending contaminated tanks to a reprocessing company in Texas that would attempt to remove the ammonia. The contaminated gas also might be burned according to approved protocols.

MFA Oil director of marketing Tom May said the company had identified a few cases of “lower level contamination”. All affected tanks had been replaced with no adverse effects. MFA was also working to switch the brass in affected tanks to avoid any corrosion.

“We’re also cleaning our big storage tanks as well,” he said.

With more than 100 propane plants, MFA sells more propane for home heating and farm use than any other company in Missouri and also serves customers in Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa, according to the company’s website.

Rogersville-based Sell Gas was also replacing affected customers’ gas tanks. There was no word whether the two propane distributers would seek compensation from the trucking company which had failed to properly clean the tanker. Any customers with concerns should contact their propane provider or the MPGC.

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