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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Something New to Worry About - Propane Hazard
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Thread: Something New to Worry About - Propane Hazard Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-18-2008 06:52 AM
Sapperwhite I thought it was a myth too.....

These pics of affected tanks with "blue" valves are found on alot of rural drug enforcement agency websites. There is even an alert on a propane gas site. I guess if the meth cook notices that his gear is deteriorating, he knows he can go exchange for shiny new gear. Are they doing it though???

National Propane Gas Association Anhydrous Ammonia and Propane Cylinders Alert









06-18-2008 03:39 AM
artbyjody Confirming TDW's comment: source
( http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/methtank.asp)

Claim: Propane tanks used in the manufacture of methamphetamine are being returned to stores and resold.

Status: Multiple:
  • Propane tanks used to transport anhydrous ammonia, a substance used in the manufacture of meth, are dangerous to use because they've been structurally weakened: True.
  • Such tanks are being returned to stores by meth cooks and resold to the public: Undetermined.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, April 2008]

Meth Training Information

Hey guys. I was at a meth training/workshop yesterday and there was a lot of great new information presented. I wanted to let you all know about one thing that I was not aware of.

Meth cooks are getting the propane tanks from the exchanges at Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc. and emptying them of the propane. Then, they are filling them with anhydrous ammonia (which they now have a recipe for by the way.)

After they are finished with them, they return them to the store. They are then refilled with propane and sent back for you and me to buy. Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive and weakens the structure of the tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane and hooked up to our grills, etc.

According to our presenter, you should inspect the propane tank for any blue or greenish residue around the valve areas. If it is present, refuse to purchase that one.

Origins: This warning is hard to classify with a simple "True," "False" or "Undetermined" because it contains factual elements that have been wrapped in what appears to be no more than conjecture. So we'll try to break it down, piece by piece.

Crystal methamphetamine makers use anhydrous ammonia in the manufacture of the drug. Anhydrous ammonia is easily obtainable because of its use as a fertilizer: it can be found on many farms and is sold by agricultural supply concerns.

Because anhydrous ammonia is a liquid that turns to a gas upon contact with air, it has to be stored and shipped under pressure in sturdy containers. The container of choice for those who siphon it off from farms for use in the manufacture of meth is the portable propane tank, because those tanks are small enough for a thief to easily cart away. (Fire extinguishers have been put to this use as well.) Propane tanks that have been used for this type of transport or storage typically develop a greenish or bluish corrosion on their valves.

Anhydrous ammonia degrades the brass valves and fittings of propane tanks and bottles, rendering these units unsafe for further use, so one should therefore never buy a portable propane tank that displays the telltale bluish or greenish blossoming around its valve. (One should also report the seller of such a unit to the police, because the authorities will likely be quite interested in learning how that person came into possession of an item possibly used in the manufacture of crystal meth. Given that meth labs routinely explode, taking out not only drug manufacturers and their domiciles but also nearby houses and the innocent families that live within them, finding and reporting meth labs is truly everybody's business.) A warning put out by the Propane Gas Association of Canada more fully discusses the dangers inherent to those misused propane tanks.

Some retailers (such as Wal-Mart) offer their propane-buying customers a tank exchange program, whereby empty tank and bottles can be exchanged for full ones for a small fee. The consumer does not get back his or her own tank; instead, an already-filled unit is provided in exchange.

It is at this point that the factual portion of the helpful warning ends and conjecture begins. At this time, we haven't found evidence confirming that unwary propane tank exchangers are going home with tanks compromised by anhydrous ammonia. Neither stores nor police departments are reporting that they are, and it doesn't make a great deal of sense that they would be. Criminals using portable propane tanks and bottles to transport and store anhydrous ammonia aren't interested in obtaining propane refills for their canisters, so they wouldn't be dropping off their empty units to the local Wal-Mart to swap for full ones. Propane, after all, isn't the liquid they're interested in. Further, since bluish or greenish corrosion around its valve is a tell-tale sign that the tank has probably been used to house anhydrous ammonia, a meth maker who handed over such a unit would make himself an obvious target to those likely to report him, such as vendors who deal in the sale and refilling of portable propane tanks ó folks who have been educated by law enforcement officials on what to keep an eye out for. (Those who legitimately work with anhydrous ammonia would not put the liquid in portable tanks meant to house propane; they would have access to the far sturdier containers meant for such purpose.)

Finally, regarding those in the business of swapping filled propane containers for empties, while vendors might accept obviously compromised propane tanks from consumers looking to go home with full newer canisters, they are unlikely to put those suspect units back into the sales cycle. Propane canisters that appeared to have anything wrong with them (and corrosion of any color around the valve should certainly count) would be junked rather than mindlessly refilled and passed on to the next consumer. Only tanks that are in very good condition are sent back out.

The public should be keeping an eye out for propane tanks and bottles that manifest blue or green residue around their valves, but more in the sense of looking towards their neighbors' yards to see what the folks they live next to are getting up to.

Barbara "keeping up with the jonesing" MikkelsonLast updated: 3 May 2008
06-18-2008 03:10 AM
tdw
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparks View Post
I came across this warning regarding the use of "exchange" propane tanks. It appears to be legit - anybody who uses an exchange propane tank on their boat should be aware of this information:

Propane Tank Safety Alert Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant drug. Manufacturers of this illegal substance are using propane cylinders for the storage and the use of anhydrous ammonia. The meth producer,
or "cook," will buy propane tanks from the exchanges at Wal-Mart, Kroger, or other local stores and empty them of the propane gas. They can then fill the propane tanks with anhydrous ammonia, which they require to "cook" Methamphetamine. After they are finished with the propane tanks, they will return them to the store. The stores may refill the tanks with propane
gas, unknowing to them that it had been used for other than propane, and sell the consumer. Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive to the brass valve in a propane tank and it will weaken the structure of the brass valve and the tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane gas
and hooked up to a grill, recreation vehicle, etc. as it can deteriorate the valve and can lead to violent, unexpected release of gas from the valve.
The National Propane Gas Association recommends inspection of the propane tank for any blue or greenish residue around the valve areas, especially if you utilize "Propane Tank Exchange"
programs. If there are evidences of these residues and substances, do not purchase or rent the propane tank and advise the vendor of your findings. Check out the following website for additional details and pictures.
(dubUdubUdubU.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=529)Propane Gas Association
Oh and by the way.....its an urban myth.
06-11-2008 08:05 PM
tdw In Australia, or more specifically, around Sydney it's becoming very hard to get tanks refilled. We are now using exchange simply because we couldn't get our old tanks refilled whereas if we do find a location that only refills we can refill the exchange.
06-11-2008 06:43 PM
sailingdog This is why I re-fill my tank, instead of exchanging it.
06-11-2008 06:20 PM
CharlieCobra Same here.
06-11-2008 05:46 PM
brak Good thing I own my tank (and it's a size that can't be exchanged at Walmart anyway, only refilled)
06-11-2008 05:30 PM
lbdavis No wonder I was wound tighter than duck's behind after cooking out last weekend. I was eating crank dogs and methburgers!
06-11-2008 05:17 PM
jparks
Something New to Worry About - Propane Hazard

I came across this warning regarding the use of "exchange" propane tanks. It appears to be legit - anybody who uses an exchange propane tank on their boat should be aware of this information:

Propane Tank Safety Alert Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant drug. Manufacturers of this illegal substance are using propane cylinders for the storage and the use of anhydrous ammonia. The meth producer,
or "cook," will buy propane tanks from the exchanges at Wal-Mart, Kroger, or other local stores and empty them of the propane gas. They can then fill the propane tanks with anhydrous ammonia, which they require to "cook" Methamphetamine. After they are finished with the propane tanks, they will return them to the store. The stores may refill the tanks with propane
gas, unknowing to them that it had been used for other than propane, and sell the consumer. Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive to the brass valve in a propane tank and it will weaken the structure of the brass valve and the tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane gas
and hooked up to a grill, recreation vehicle, etc. as it can deteriorate the valve and can lead to violent, unexpected release of gas from the valve.
The National Propane Gas Association recommends inspection of the propane tank for any blue or greenish residue around the valve areas, especially if you utilize "Propane Tank Exchange"
programs. If there are evidences of these residues and substances, do not purchase or rent the propane tank and advise the vendor of your findings. Check out the following website for additional details and pictures.
(dubUdubUdubU.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=529)Propane Gas Association

 
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