LPG plants

If your company stores and uses LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), it usually needs a permit granted by Tukes, or, as a minimum requirement in some cases, you must submit a notification to the rescue authorities. The scope of operations and the total amount of LPG and other possible chemicals used determines whether you need to contact Tukes or the rescue authorities.

The aim of the permit and notification procedure is to ensure that the LPG plant is sited, constructed and equipped safely, and that it is compliant with the relevant requirements.

LPG plant refers to a company in which the amount of stored LPG is about 5 to 50 tonnes – in terms of volume this means a tank of 10 to 100 m3. An LPG plant can also have small amounts of other dangerous chemicals stored.

Apply for a LPG plant permit well in advance before starting the construction. Tukes's target processing time for new plant permit applications is 8 months.

 

LPG plant design and construction

Good plant design takes into account the same issues as the design and construction of other chemical plants.

When analysing an LPG plant, the following issues must be taken into account:

  • integrity of equipment, why the device does not leak?
  • disturbances in the process
  • leak management
  • ignition sources and preventing them
  • preventing fires and explosions.

The safety requirements followed in the plants are based on the relevant statutes and the measures found in the plant’s risk assessment (Act on the Safe Handling and Storage of Dangerous Chemicals and Explosives 390/2005) and Government Decree on the Safety Requirements of Liquid Gas Plants 858/2012. There are also various technical standards concerning LPG.

Please note that an LPG tank is considered registered pressure equipment and therefore is subject to the requirements imposed on pressure equipment.

One of the key issues assessed in the permit processing is the safe siting of the LPG plant. A basic requirement for the siting of a new plant is that the planning in the area permits a new plant.

Major accidents at LPG plants are usually associated with LPG leaks and a fire or vapour cloud explosion potentially following the leak.

Operation supervisor

All LPG plants must have an appointed operation supervisor. The operation supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the plant is maintained and operated in accordance with the valid statutes and the permits relating to the operations.

Before the company can appoint a person as an operation supervisor, the person must complete a qualification test organised by Tukes. These qualification tests are held about once a month around Finland.

Since the operation supervisor must be appointed before commissioning the plant, it is advisable to take this issue into account already when applying for the permit.

Inspections of LPG plants

LPG plants are subject to a commissioning inspection and then periodic inspections every 4 years.

Commissioning inspections

Before commissioning the LPG plant, Tukes or an approved inspection body carries out a commissioning inspection at the plant. An approved inspection body may carry out the inspection if this is authorised in the decision on the LPG plant permit. The company must request the inspection.

The purpose of the commissioning inspection is to verify that the plant is constructed in accordance with the plans and that the terms and conditions specified in the decision on the permit are realised. The inspection is carried out on-site.

A record of the inspection is drawn up, stating whether the LPG plant can be commissioned. If necessary, conditions for commissioning may be imposed. If the commissioning inspection is carried out by an inspection body, the LPG plant must remember to submit the inspection report to Tukes.

Periodic inspections

LPG plants must be inspected every 4 years. Periodic inspections must be carried out by an approved inspection body (Inspection bodies approved by Tukes on tukes.fi). The company is responsible for requesting the inspection. The purpose of the periodic inspections is to verify that the plant is operated in a safe manner and in accordance with the relevant statutes.

Changes

The company must have a written change management procedure. The change management procedure must state how the risks related to changes, both major and minor, are assessed and how the risk management measures carried out.

Major changes, such as those listed below, are subject to a permit that must be applied for to Tukes. Smaller changes, such as those listed below, are subject to a notification that must be submitted to Tukes.

The list below contains examples of changes of different levels and the measures required.

Major changes:

  • a new LPG tank that is additional to the existing tank
  • a new LPG tank whose volume exceeds the volume of the old tank by 10 % or more
  • a new appliance with a capacity of 6 MW or higher
  • a new LPG filling station where LPG cylinders are filled from an LPG tank.

For any major change, a permit application must be submitted to Tukes. All changes that are comparable to new operations are subject to a commissioning inspection.

Changes that require a notification:

For any change that requires a notification, a notice of change must be submitted to Tukes. You can use a form or submit a free-form notice. These changes do not require a commissioning inspection – the documents are reviewed in the next periodic inspection. The operation supervisor of the plant ensures that the terms and conditions are realised before commissioning.

Minor changes:

  • constructing a water spray system for an above-ground tank
  • replacing an LPG pipe between the tank and evaporator
  • replacing an evaporator if the evaporator location remains the same
  • making changes in the pipework for LPG in gaseous state
  • a new appliance with a capacity of less than 1.2 MW
  • replacing an LPG tank with a new tank if the change in the maximum volume of LPG is less than 10 % of the previous volume and the tank location remains the same.

Tukes does not need to be notified of minor changes. The operation supervisor of the LPG plant ensures that the change is carried out in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements.

 

Shutting down the operation, bankruptcy, temporary interruption and change of ownership

Shutting down the operation

If an LPG plant or part of its operations is shut down, the same requirements apply as to other chemical plants.

Interruption

Interrupting the operations of an LPG plant is subject to the same requirements as any other case of interrupting the operations of chemical plants.

Change of ownership

If you acquire LPG business, make sure that all the necessary documentation is transferred during the sale.

Update the documents and notify the authorities about the change of economic operator!

Notify Tukes if the business name or its contact details change. Tukes does not need to be notified of changes in the operation supervisors of chemicals or LPG, but a list of the operation supervisors must be kept at the production plant.

What is LPG?

Mixtures of hydrocarbon gases
Liquefied petroleum gases are mixtures of hydrocarbon gases, in Finland usually propane.

Cylinders and tanks
Liquefied petroleum gases are stored and transported in liquefied form in cylinders and tanks.

Use
For example, as fuel in industrial applications and household and outdoor appliances, and as an aerosol propellant.

Extremely flammable

Heavier than air gases
In case of an LPG leak, the mixture of LPG and air sinks on the floor or ground and settles to, for example, basements and pits.

Nearly odourless in natural state
Odorant is added to LPG so that leaks can be detected.

See also

OVA instruction: Liquefied petroleum gases

Equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres – ATEX

Approved companies

Frequently asked questions