46 CFR § 151.50-12 - Ethylene oxide.

§ 151.50-12 Ethylene oxide.


(1) Ethylene oxide shall be carried in fixed, independent, pressure vessel type cargo tanks, designed, constructed, arranged and, if necessary, equipped with machinery to maintain the cargo temperature below 90 °F except as otherwise provided for in paragraph (a)(3) of this section.

(2) Ethylene oxide shall be loaded at a temperature below 70 °F.

(3) When ethylene oxide is to be transported at or near atmospheric pressure, the Commandant may permit the use of alternate methods of storage which are consistent with the minimum requirements of this subpart.


(1) All cargo tanks shall be constructed of a carbon steel or stainless steel acceptable to the Commandant. Impurities of copper, magnesium and other acetylide-forming metals shall be kept to a minimum. The chemical composition of all steel used shall be submitted to the Commandant for approval prior to fabrication. Aluminum, copper and other acetylide-forming metals, such as silver, mercury, magnesium, and their alloys shall not be used as materials of construction for tanks or equipment used in handling ethylene oxide.

(2) Cargo tanks shall meet the requirements of Class I pressure vessels.

(3) Cargo tanks shall be designed for the maximum pressure of vapor or gas used in discharging the cargo but in no case shall the design pressure of such tanks be less than 75 pounds per square inch gauge. The tank shell and heads shall not be less than 5/16-inch thick.


(1) Cargo tanks shall be located below deck in holds or enclosed spaces with the domes or trunks extended above the weather deck and terminating in the open. Provisions shall be made to maintain the watertightness of the deck by means of watertight seals around such domes or trunks. The holds or enclosed spaces, in which the ethylene oxide tanks are located, shall not be used for any other purpose. However, in open hopper type barges of a suitable design approved for such service, the weatherdeck may not be required to be watertight.

(2) All cargo tanks shall be installed with the manhole openings and all tank connections located above the weatherdeck in the open.

(3) Tanks shall be electrically bonded to the hull.

(4) No welding of any kind shall be done on cargo tanks or supporting structure unless authorized by the Commandant.

(d) All cargo tanks, piping, valves, fittings, and similar equipment which may contain ethylene oxide in either the liquid or vapor phase, including the vent risers, shall be insulated. Flanges need not be covered, but if covered, a small opening shall be left at the bottom of the flange cover to detect leaks. Insulation shall be of an approved incombustible material suitable for use with ethylene oxide, which does not significantly lower the autoignition temperature and which does not react spontaneously with ethylene oxide. The insulation shall be of such thickness as to provide a thermal conductance of not more than 0.075 B.t.u. per square foot per degree Fahrenheit differential in temperature per hour.


(1) When cooling systems are installed to maintain the temperature of the liquid below 90 °F, at least two complete cooling plants, automatically regulated by temperature variations within the tanks shall be provided; each to be complete with the necessary auxiliaries for proper operation. The control system shall also be capable of being manually operated. An alarm shall be provided to indicate malfunctioning of the temperature controls. The capacity of each cooling system shall be sufficient to maintain the temperature of the liquid cargo at or below the design temperature of the system.

(2) An alternate arrangement may consist of three cooling plants, any two of which shall be sufficient to maintain the temperature of the liquid cargo at or below the design temperature of the system.

(3) Cooling systems requiring compression of ethylene oxide are prohibited.

(f) In addition to the shutoff valve required, all tank connections larger than one-half inch inside pipe size, except safety relief valves and liquid level gauging devices, shall be fitted with either internal back pressure check valves or internal excess flow valves in conjunction with a quick closing stop valve operable from at least two remote locations. The quick closing stop valve shall be of the “fail safe” type acceptable to the Commandant and shall be equipped with a fusible plug designed to melt between 208 °F and 220 °F, which will cause the quick closing valve to close automatically in case of fire. The quick closing valve shall be located as close to the tank as possible.

(g) Piping systems intended for ethylene oxide service shall not be used for any other product and shall be completely separate from all other systems. The piping system shall be designed so that no cross connections may be made either through accident or design.

(h) Each safety relief valve shall be set to start to discharge at not less than 75 pounds per square inch gauge, nor more than the design pressure of the tank.

(i) The filling density shall not exceed 83 percent.


(1) The cargo shall be shipped under a suitable protective inerting gas system, such as nitrogen. When nitrogen gas is used, the gas inerting system shall be so designed that the vapor space above the liquid cargo will be filled and maintained with a gas mixture of not less than 45 percent nitrogen. Other gases proposed for inerting use may be given consideration by the Commandant. Original charging only of protective inerting gas at the loading facility is not considered adequate. A sufficient amount of spare inerting gas as approved by the Commandant shall be provided on the vessel in order to maintain the proper concentration of the gas in the event of normal leakage or other losses.

(2) Any inerting gas selected should be at least 98 percent pure and free of reactive materials, such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur compounds, and acetylene.

(k) Prior to loading, a sample from the cargo tank will be taken to insure that the pad gas will meet the requirements of paragraph (j) of this section and that the oxygen content of the vapor space will be not more than 2 percent maximum. If necessary, a sample will be taken after loading to insure the vapor space meets this requirement.

(l) The cargo piping shall be inspected and tested at least once in each 2 calendar years.

(m) In those cases where the cargo transfer hose used is not part of the barge's equipment, the person in charge of the transfer operation shall determine that the provisions of § 151.50-10(k) have been met before using this hose. A certificate of test, supplied by the transfer facility, will be considered as adequate for this determination.

(n) The provisions of § 151.50-10 shall be complied with as a requirement for shipping ethylene oxide.

(o) A hydrostatic test of 1 1/2 times the design pressure shall be made on the cargo tanks at least once in each 4 years at the time the internal examination is made and at such other times as considered necessary by the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection.

[CGFR 70-10, 35 FR 3714, Feb. 25, 1970, as amended by CGD 85-061, 54 FR 50966, Dec. 11, 1989]