US company disputes $4m welding standards ruling

11 October 2011

Posted by Samuel Couratin

A ruling by the US Department of Transportation regarding welding work carried out on tanks that led to fines totalling almost $4 million (£2.6 million) is disputed by the company concerned.

The government body's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently took action against American Welding & Tank (AWT) regarding the manufacture of certain anhydrous ammonia vessels following an investigation at its plant in response to reports of defects.

FMCSA found the Fremont, Ohio-based company issued the firm with $3,876,000 in fines for violation of federal standards relating to hazardous materials, having ruled that it was producing and selling cargo tanks that were unsafe.

"We are sending a strong message that companies will face serious consequences when they do not make safety a top priority," stated Ray Hood, US Transportation Secretary.

He added that the agency is "committed to protecting motorists from accidents involving the transport of hazardous materials".

FMCSA ruled that there was a "clear pattern" in evidence that the company was failing to meet standards relating to the manufacture, maintenance, sale and repair of tanks.

However, AWT has stated that it does not concur with the organization's findings regarding welding standards and insists it has "always followed and met all federal guidelines for the manufacture of anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks".

According to the firm, it is not aware of any incidents involving pinhole defects in its tanks and it has previously passed a series of regulatory reviews and routine inspections.

It added that tanks should be regularly checked for any signs of damage, wear or leak because of anhydrous ammonia's corrosive nature, with weld issues repaired free of charge within three years of purchase for its customers.

The substance is used in farming operations and is often stored and transported in nurse tanks that must be carefully welded to prevent safety breaches.

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