Odorant Vessel Decommissioning and Deodorization Considerations

Dan McCormack, P.Eng, V.P Engineering
June 29, 2023
Odorant Vessel Decommissioning and Deodorization Considerations

Odorant is the extremely smelly chemical added to natural gas and propane to give them their distinctive smells. These smells alert people when there is a natural gas or propane leak, allowing them to get to safety and to call emergency services. The addition of odorant is the number one safety initiative for both the Natural Gas and Propane industries. 

The smell of odorant is so powerful that it permeates the equipment that is used to store and inject it. This equipment, even when empty of the odorant, still retains the odor. This is why proper techniques and trained personnel must be employed to decommission and deodorize old odorant equipment and storage vessels.

As part of decommissioning odorant equipment and vessels, the odorant must be removed under controlled conditions so that no odor is released. Next, all the openings must be sealed and any valves, tubing, piping, and other attached equipment must be removed in an odor free and safe manner. A release of odor during the decommissioning process could cause the public to think that there is a gas or propane leak, resulting in emergency and leak calls. 

Once decommissioned, all equipment and vessels must be prepared so they do not leak as they are transported to a reputable deodorization facility (emptied, purged, sealed and have an inert gas blanket placed on it). This is a very important step.  We once witnessed hundreds of leak calls coming in as someone else’s improperly decommissioned odorant vessel moved through a large metropolitan city on the back of a truck.

At the deodorization facility, the vessel and equipment must be deodorized prior to being disposed of or recycled. At the Tansley  deodorization facility, we use an extremely safe, non-chemical method to deodorize the odorant equipment and vessels. Once the equipment and vessels meet our stringent standards, they are made inoperable (hole cut in the side) and sent to the recycler where they are turned into rebar. Each vessel also has a certificate of destruction issued.  Our system works so well that a portable version was used to deodorize  a 13,000 gallon odorant vessel in the heart of Vancouver B.C. without incident.

When decommissioning and deodorizing odorant equipment and vessels, Tansley uses specialty equipment and techniques that we have developed during our nearly 50 years of odorant handling experience to ensure that our customers don’t have to handle the leak calls.

For odorant decommissioning and deodorization projects, Tansley strongly recommends that the propane and natural gas industries use a specialty odorant company, knowledgeable in the decommissioning and recycling of odorant equipment and vessels. Having done this once or twice is not the same as having the specialty equipment and having successfully done it hundreds and hundreds of times like Tansley has.

We feel so strongly about the reputation of the odorant industry that you can call us anytime, at no cost or obligation, to just chat about odorant.

If you have any odorant concerns or questions we would be pleased to talk to you. Call 403.569.8566