Netlore Archive: Email alert warns purchasers of propane tanks to avoid buying tanks with blue or green residue around the valve, an indication they may be contaminated with anhydrous ammonia.
Description: Email flier
Circulating since: April 2008
Status: True / Overblown
Email example contributed by Ruthann B., April 27, 2008:
This is scary...
Subject: 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.
Email example contributed by J. Reim, May 18, 2008:
Fwd: propane tanks
Hello and how is your day so far? Where I am sitting, it is another D&D Day. You know DAMP and DREARY DAY. I just received this e-mail from a very good friend who is still involved with Law Enforcement. Since the grillin' season is upon us, I figured another PUBLIC SERVICE announcement was in order. It has to do with propane tanks which we all use. While I haven't heard of METH labs in my area lately, one never knows. As always, to be forewarned is always a safe encounter.
Be careful when you exchange your PROPANE TANKS
Meth cooks are getting exchange propane tanks from places like Wal-Mart, Kroger, Home Depot, Lowes and various services stations in your area. They empty them of the propane and 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 propane tank. It can be very dangerous when mixed with propane and hooked up to our grills, etc.
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.
You should check out the following website for more details. They also have pictures you can show.
Comments: This falls under the category of information you're probably better off having though it's unlikely you'll ever need to use it.
Drug makers do sometimes use discarded or stolen propane tanks as vessels for anhydrous ammonia, a key and very dangerous ingredient in the manufacture of homebrew methamphetamines. As a result, the tanks end up both corroded and contaminated by the chemical, making them extremely hazardous to re-use. The only tell-tale sign is a blue-green stain around the brass valve.
According to propane tank suppliers, however, these damaged tanks rarely get recycled or resold -- if for no other reason than the folks responsible for the damage don't want to attract attention to their illegal activities. Philip Squair of the National Propane Gas Association told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that as of June 2008 he was unaware of a single instance of injuries resulting from the re-use of a propane tank damaged by use in a meth lab. (The NPGA warning that served as the basis for a mid-2008 round of media alerts on the subject was issued six years ago and has since been removed from the organization's website.)
“Of the millions of tanks processed in a year, we encounter only a very, very few tanks that may have been used in meth production,” says Tod Brown, president of Blue Rhino, the leading U.S. provider of propane tank exchange. “Blue Rhino immediately contacts hazardous materials response units to properly dispose of any tanks suspected to have been used in the production or transport of methamphetamine. We work to ensure these tanks don’t make it back to the store or a griller’s backyard.”
Consumers may still wish to take the better-safe-than-sorry approach and check for damage or contamination before purchasing recycled propane tanks, especially from smaller, potentially less-than-scrupulous dealers.
Sources and further reading:
Tales About Damaged Propane Tanks Used in Meth Labs Only Partially True
Plain Dealer, 22 June 2008
Blue Rhino Responds to Concerns Over Propane Tanks and Methamphetamine Production
Press release, 23 June 2008
Propane Tanks Used in Meth Labs
Click2Houston.com, 3 June 2008
Last updated: 07/01/08