Washington State Emergency Rule on Flammable and CO2 Extraction

OK ya’ll, here are copies of the “emergency rules” that Washington State has adopted in the face of the 2013 explosions, fires, and Bellevue fatality.

1.0: WAC 51-54A-3800

2.0: CR-103E

Does that leave any doubt in anyone’s mind what they consider important and how serious they are?

Does anyone think a Like/Dislike button on social media will change their minds?

Who believes that the argument, “so what, the messenger has feet of clay”, will make any difference whatsoever in how Washington DA’s enforce the rule?

Those still answering yes to the above are ostensibly wasting their time on this forum, but those remaining may see it as the clear target that I do.

It distresses me some that they now allow only a Washington Professional Engineer for certification, whom they must also certify again for the purpose, because some of us have already paid for a licensed Professional Engineering study certification in their own states, so will be starting over with those who didn’t bother.

It is my perception that the problem was more of units being sold that were not ASME certified, than rascally certified Professional Engineers from other states certifying faulty equipment.

It also looks like the beginning a sideshow, if all states accept only their own PE certifications, so hopefully after the dust settles, they will consider licensed registered Professional Engineering reciprocity between states.

The good news is that it should no longer beg the question of what certifications are required for equipment, what installation and location concerns must be addressed, and what hoops operators must jump through to legally extract in Washington.

Ostensibly the rest of the states that haven’t already led, will follow as as they legalize and regulate, so WA’s action are not so much of a single states actions, as a harbinger of thangs to come, for sellers of uncertified/uncertifiable equipment.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dr. tony antonio on March 6, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    you mean we can’t make oil in our backyard anymore?


  2. Posted by Thomas Husmann on October 15, 2015 at 7:48 PM

    I have submitted a second public testimony that I think you’ll appreciate.

    Public Comment Regarding Emergency Rule for Marijuana Extraction Operations:

    I object to the emergency rules because they will create unsafe working conditions for machinery operators, will result in severe injury and/or death and create hazards that enforcement officials do not have the education or experience to adequately address.

    It is common knowledge that the safest place to use hydrocarbon extraction equipment is outdoors in a well ventilated space. However, under these rules the authors attempt to expand the scope of authority of the fire department by regulating activities that would normally be exempt from the International Fire Codes and and NFPA’s, forcing processors to move extraction operations indoors. This also burdens these fledgling businesses with very expensive engineering fees, installation costs, and facility upgrades that add no net benefit to safety.

    The International Fire Codes and NFPA’s include very well thought out guidelines for creating a safe work environment. These guidelines set limits for storage and in-use quantities of flammable gases. They offer exemptions and exceptions for closed loop systems that utilize butane and propane if there is adequate ventilation, as determined by an engineer, in-use quantities are limited to less than 5 gallons, and the gas storage tank is located outdoors in a well ventilated space.

    However, under these emergency rules fire marshal’s are given an overreaching authority to enforce standards that are not applied to any other industry and are exempted by the IFC’s and NFPA’s. Perfectly safe operations will be forced to employ electric backup systems even in circumstances where closing a few certified shut-off valves would be a safer solution. It will require electrical interlocks even when no other code or law would require them. It will require fire marshals to enforce mechanical codes outlined in ASHRAE 15 even though they fall squarely under the jurisdiction of the building code department. It will create a set of unenforceable standards that will directly impact small businesses’s ability to make ends meet while exposing government agencies to lawsuits for damages. It will also encourage people to scoff at the laws and give the black market a competitive advantage.

    While many of these rules may seem logical, they attempt to enforce a particular methodology for achieving compliance with existing fire, mechanical, and safety codes without giving businesses the flexibility they need to suit their particular circumstances. The emergency rules reflect a single approach to creating a safe environment but they are based solely on the opinions of a select few individuals who have absolutely no experience in this industry. They believe their way is the only way and don’t believe there are other ways to comply with the NFPA’s and Mechanical Codes.

    The 2015 version of NFPA 45 for labs removed the explosion proofing language and the accompanying handbook stated this was done to offer room designers, equipment manufacturers, and operators more flexibility in creating a safe environment. The handbook states that preventing explosions is outside of the scope of the NFPA’s; in fact, it’s not within the scope of authority of the Fire Department to regulate closed extraction systems. Instead, this falls squarely under the rules developed by the most educated and knowledgeable engineers in the industry, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society. These rules have been refined over the last 40 years to address the issues at hand and they have been trusted to provide a safe working environment by OSHA, UL, and other regulatory agencies. They address mechanical requirements for the systems, ventilation requirements with detailed formulas, mechanical room requirements, and the appropriate precautions that must be taken when a system is opened up for repair or service. They specifically address butane and propane, and go into detail about what precautions need to be employed when opening a closed system for a repair/extraction. The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society offers in depth training curriculum to insure operators have the education necessary to do this safely.

    These emergency rules are being pushed through the system by a few individuals who only seek to have more control and put more barriers in place for marijuana processors. They have no desire to apply these arbitrary requirements to any other industry and if they are implemented, many businesses will fail because they will not have an affordable solution for converting their waste material into a valuable commodity. The already burdensome cost of operating a marijuana grower/processor business will become prohibitive if these small businesses are forced to comply with these arbitrary and capricious standards. The hazards and risks are exactly the same in other industries, and there is no reason we should prescribe a unique set of safety guidelines that only apply to marijuana processing businesses when the same risks and processes exist in other agricultural industries. As a local Fire Marshal put it, “these operations are safer than most people’s garages I go into” the arbitrary nature of these rules becomes very apparent when you compare a state licensed extraction operation to the average person’s garage.

    All that said, I humbly request that we refer to the existing rules and instead of interpreting them for us and applying a single method for compliance, give us the flexibility afforded to every other business. Let us develop our own solutions for complying with the NFPA’s, Building Codes, and Mechanical Codes. Please don’t force us to implement these strategies that can increase costs to the tune of $30,000 or more without any net benefit to safety.

    Thank you


    • Posted by jimc2350cofarmer on March 7, 2016 at 11:40 AM

      It must be nice living in a socialist state. Don’ you know that these bozos are just after power. The black market will prosper from such restrictions. In Colorado the bureaucraps are putting in such idiotic regulations that the black market will prosper.


  3. Are you certain that these rules were adopted? There was a public hearing in Spokane, but another scheduled in October in Olympia. I don’t think these rules have been adopted, as that would take a legislative session. The emergency rule has a 3 month lifespan, but it can be renewed. The rules are riddled with problems, for example, when did a law get passed that allowed Fire Marshals to enforce building codes, allowed them to decide whether a professional engineer is qualified to do his/her job, and enforce portions of the NFPA’s without recognizing the exceptions?

    This is an example of a Fire Marshal in Spokane attempting to use his seat on the building code council to expand the authority of the Fire Department so that they local Fire Marshal’s can play gate keeper for the extraction industry. He’s told me he has only one licensed hydrocarbon extraction system in Spokane and made them provide a 60 page technical report and employ a number of safety strategies that aren’t required by law.

    There are permits already required, called mechanical systems permits, and there are national standards for closed refrigeration systems that use butane/propane. Bigfoot Extraction Systems are in compliance.

    If these rules are adopted as they stand, enforcement of them may result in lawsuits because WAC’s are codes that enforcement officials follow to prevent arbitrary enforcement of the law, we as business owners and Citizens are bound by the RCW’s. This emergency rule is a joke and in my opinion, it may not be enforceable as it’s written.


    • Posted by Trike bud on October 6, 2015 at 8:05 AM

      True to you


    • All of the explosions certainly does have the regulatory folks stirred up in the Land of WA, and they do appear to be attempting to drive the point home with a sledgehammer, but Washington is not the only state up in the air over BHO explosions and developing regulation.

      I’m currently trying to cut through the morass in WA, OR, NV, and CO, and it isn’t pretty.

      The states trying to figure out how to regulate the fire/safety issues is just one aspect of where things are headed.

      I recently attended a training session that included NIOSH Industrial Hygienists, as well as high level occupational safety and health officers from the United Food & Commercial Workers representing cannabis industry workers.

      With legalization, comes regulation and the cannabis industry will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when it comes to worker safety. We are expected to meet industrial standards for worker health and safety.

      I’ve also been involved in the investigation of a New Mexico lab explosion, which was using a closed loop system, but had inadequate ventilation to accommodate a release that occurred anyway.

      That has brought to the forefront, the question of how much ventilation is required to keep releases below 25% of LEL and does the room have to be NEMA 7 Div 1 Class 1, or can it be Class II until the HC sensor goes off, at which time ventilation increases and electrical is shut off.

      The investigation has of course brought to the forefront that many of the system designs are such that they are above 25% of LEL when opened at the end of the cycle, so one possible outcome is that those systems not using an inert gas to perform backfill/purge cycles prior to opening, may be required to add that feature.

      The issue is expanding from certification of not just the central hardware, location, and installation to meet ASME/NEC/NFPA, but certification of the worker training (manuals), as well as the manufacturers QA procedures, as part of the combined package.

      We will always have systems in operation that don’t keep up with the growing requirements, but it isn’t just the fire marshal with building code violation that responds to things that can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong. There are injury, legal, civil, and financial concerns.

      As far as Fire Marshals second guessing Registered Professional engineers, they both are ostensibly looking at the same regulation document, so the issue is typically resolvable. I employed ME PE’s most of my professional career and we often found errors at peer review meetings and more than once had the plans checker at the county put their finger on a mistake that we all missed.

      My own experience has been more of out of state fire marshal’s desperately digging for more information on what to look for when both doing an inspection, and when first responders show up in case of an emergency.

      Sadly, my own proactive efforts to enlist the local fire marshal in helping develop our own industry standards met failure, when he said he would get back to me after talking to the city attorney, but never did.

      In the absence of our own well thought out industrial standards addressing public concern, they are being set for us.

      Soooo, what to do, what to do, if we wish to participate in the regulated market place????

      Since we have limited control on the standards that are being imposed on us, what WolfWurx, Inc did in response, was assuage their concerns by giving them what they want.

      We designed a system meeting NEMA 7, Div I, Class I and an extraction enclosure providing 100 cfm per square foot of booth face area, so there was no debate from the PE’s or Fire Marshals.

      It has a pneumatic Haskel recovery pump, and we added a pneumatic Vaccon high vacuum pump, and hot water pot and column heating, with no electricals in the room beyond millivolt/amps from thermocouples.

      Our design already included nitrogen to render the chambers inert before opening them, so no other changes were necessary.

      With all the bright minds on the problem, I can’t wait to see what all solutions arise!


      • With over 15 years operating an Internet Business and 5 years of owning a brick and mortar natural foods store, I have witnessed many business owners bend over backward to comply with rules that don’t exist or are not enforceable. Even to the tune of $50,000 or more. So what I did was explain to the regulators which rules they’re supposed to enforce, that way they are not enforcing arbitrary standards. I personally reviewed over 1000 pages of regulations and found the appropriate codes that apply. Why should marijuana businesses be burdened with more rules than any other farm? Mint and hops farms use butane extractors, they get mechanic system permits, why should cannabis be any different?

        As an example, they say you can’t operate a business in a residence, so what do you do? Find a commercial location? Or read the laws. Agriculture is exempt from those laws. They might say you need a water system for employees, but they don’t say that bottled water will suffice. They might say you need an engineered septic system, but what they don’t say is that a porta-potty will get the job done. They might say you can’t have business traffic at a residence, but they don’t tell you that up to 80 visits a day is not considered business traffic. I could go on.

        For butane labs they might say you need a sprinkler system, chemical storage cabinet, backup generator, interlocks, etc. But they don’t say that if you put your storage tank outside and use less than 5 gallons at one time, many of these standards are unenforceable.

        There is already a standard in place for closed systems using r600 or r290, it covers all the bases, it’s called the Mechanical Codes. They discuss ventilation, machine room requirements, Check it out, ASHREI 15. These are the codes you have to design for. Interpreting them requires experience and some help from a legal team. Deciding how much ventilation you require is tricky, first time through you might think one thing, after a more scrutinizing review, you might see something else.

        The Fire Marshals have no authority outside the scope and intent of the Fire Codes. The 2015 NFPA 45 for labs was amended to remove explosion proofing requirements, in the accompanying handbook it states they pulled it from the rules because it’s up to the room designer, equipment manufacturer, and operator to address these issues …not the Fire Marshal.

        When you do a hazards analysis, you have to look at the history of the process. Are there cases where permitted labs causes injury or property damage, did that damage extend to people or property outside of the lab? In the emergency rule for extraction operations in Washington, the fatality they referenced, while it is very sad, did not result from the concussion or fire damage caused by the butane explosion. A prominent community leader fell while evacuating, inured her hip, then died of complications of that injury. Using this incident to enforce arbitrary rules that give the Fire Department way too much authority, and and arbitrary set of rules that no other farms or processors are required to comply with, is hyperbolic.

        Moving forward, I always recommend leaning toward safe solutions, but don;t trust the government to get you there. We do not need more rules, and we don’t need more sheeple making them feel justified making us jump through hoops that aren’t equally applied to people outside of this industry.

        We need to stand up for our rights as farmers, as business owners, and as Citizens of this great nation and take responsibility for our own safety.


      • “That has brought to the forefront, the question of how much ventilation is required to keep releases below 25% of LEL and does the room have to be NEMA 7 Div 1 Class 1, or can it be Class II until the HC sensor goes off, at which time ventilation increases and electrical is shut off.”

        The problem I see is that that you are accepting that it’s ok to make new laws to enforce a particular methodology for achieving compliance with the safety rules. Of course ventilation can be used, as you suggested, it’s a matter of how much. It’s also a matter of understanding the rule. If you open a catch pot and it’s full of butane, it 100% saturated inside the catch, but is the total volume of the vapor equivalent to more than 25% of the LEL when taking the entire room volume into consideration? Or, if there is 1500 CFM ventilation and that was enough to evacuate the entire room 6 times per minute, would it even be possible for that level to be reached if a leak occurred or hose ruptured? ANd where should that level be tested? If we place electric outlets above the danger zone, knowing that butane is heavier than air, and put the sensor just below the outlets, is explosion proofing even necessary (I see nothing in the code that requires it).

        The more rules they put in place, the more favorable things become for the big guys. The little guys suffer because they don’t know how to interpret the rule for maximum savings, and may get walked all over by enforcement officials.


  4. Posted by chris on August 13, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    Good intention to try and solve this problem just will not work. The demands for BHO didn’t go away. Just the very little bit of sense being used by those who think ” Hey I can do this “. In reality we’re pushing it further underground . Now those who think that they’ve got the rights on their side will take more dangerous extremes to hide it. I see a potential to kill a lot of good people while EMS and fire are not able to respond in a quick effective way. REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU THINK THINGS SHOULD BE. THIS YEAR ESPECIALLY, DON’T PLAY WITH MATCHES! For the moment at least

    people and burn the country to a cinder


  5. Posted by Chris on August 3, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    The Washington state department of liquor and cannabis sent out an email explaining that these are not their rules and they do not enforce them. You are basically looking at a building code violation if you don’t build a crazy extraction lab, assuming you are properly licensed by the state for closedloop extraction.


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