Failure to comply with labelling obligations (marking) of propane gas cylinders (compressed gas containers) when placing on the market and selling to end consumers. Failure of market surveillance by upper state authorities and the federal government and the resulting potential danger for consumers when using these pressurised gas containers. Also taking into account that these are dangerous goods packaging.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The German Association for Gas Technology e.V. (GAGT e.V.), as well as in the past the “Bundesverband für Gasanlagentechnik” (BFG), has now for the second time, the topic “Conformity” of gas products and its handling in the market and with the consumers in Europe/Germany, on the table for processing. There is of course no question that in this context all and in particular the Lisbon Treaties, which also play a decisive role in European competition law. The Product Liability Act (ProdHaftG), as the law on liability for defective products, and the Product Safety Act (ProdSG), responsible for the safety requirements for technical work equipment and consumer products, also come into play here in this report. How products are to be delivered to consumers and which requirements are necessary for this are particularly addressed here.
The GAGT e.V. is aware of the fact that the upper state authorities with their market surveillance bodies, as well as their responsible ministries, have failed at all levels to protect consumers with regard to the safety of propane gas cylinders (pressurised gas containers). Even most of the responsible ministries in the federal government, which repeatedly present themselves as the “good guys” in the media, have been sitting on their hands regarding consumer protection since the 1960s. And they have failed miserably in the area of dangerous goods, especially in the area of dangerous goods transport containers, be it dangerous goods transporters or the “propane gas cylinders” we are all familiar with, which are used millions of times a day throughout Europe/Germany.
This failure has cost the lives of many people in Europe/Germany and many thousands are still suffering from serious injuries caused by “pressurised gas containers” and their failure. Just imagine that many of us, when entering a DIY store, for example, cannot even imagine that they might not be able to leave it alive, or that they would have to be transported away seriously injured. Of course, all this happens not only in DIY stores, but also in all places where these goods (compressed gas containers/propane gas containers) are offered. And should such a pressurised gas container take on a life of its own during a barbecue and swing into a near-earth orbit, of course without having caused immense damage beforehand, you can perhaps imagine who is responsible for this at the end of this report.
What we, the GAGT, reproach the politicians and the responsible ministries for, we will now try to bring closer to the consumer. Because only if the consumer knows the dangers, he can avoid them. The following events and causes are based on documents from the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, as well as reports from fire brigades and press reports from all over Europe/Germany. In addition, we have investigated accidents over many years and have also come across deliberate and intentional false statements made by employees of ministries, which were obtained on behalf of public prosecutors in investigative proceedings. In the process, the administration of justice has also fallen by the wayside. As a reader, think about it right now… you could be the next one to be caught unawares and in familiar places. And now the list of all the shortcomings that we accuse the legislator of and who and what is behind them. I see, at the moment election posters with nice people are smiling at you again, of course with just as nice election promises attached. They are asking for your vote in order to leave everything as it is after the election. That’s the way it is.
In addition to the regulations that you are now familiar with and that we have mentioned, there is of course another series of directives and regulations in connection with “pressurised gas containers” and their equipment, in which there are considerable deficiencies. But now let’s start with the compressed gas containers (propane gas containers) we are familiar with, in the form of 5 kg and 11 kg.
When selling these “pressurised gas containers”, it is obligatory according to legislation on the part of the manufacturer that a so-called “declaration of conformity” is handed over before the sale, e.g. to an end consumer at the checkout when paying. This declaration of conformity refers only to the container and not to the contents; it must be handed over by the manufacturer before delivery to the retailer. Of course with all the necessary statements that enable the customer after a purchase to have recourse against the manufacturer in the event of a justified claim for damages. It is not a question of the contents, e.g. LPG in this container, but only of the packaging, i.e. the actual pressure container. DIY stores or other points of sale of pressurised gas containers, it is expressly forbidden to affix without a valid declaration of conformity, wherever affixed to the container, clearly visible by the customer and not worn out by repeated use by many people. You will find this procedure for labelling products on all appliances, including those in your household, on the product and at the same time on an enclosed instruction leaflet, or in the packaging. How this has to be done and for what and of course which activities only a certificate of conformity has to be provided is described in DIN EN ISO/IEC 17000:2020. This standard can be obtained from Beuth Verlag GmbH in 10772 Berlin. This standard was prepared for Germany by the DIN Standards Committee for Quality Management, Statistics and Certification Fundamentals (NQSZ) and the DKE German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies in DIN and VDE. Of course, this reference should not be missing here, because with the deficiencies occurring on this scale, it is necessary if the politicians and the gentlemen in the anterooms of the members of parliament (lobbyists’ rooms), in the parliaments apparently also do not know where what is written. They cannot be forgiven, since the majority of them are lawyers anyway and the danger of no longer being elected should be very small. But knowledge is power, not stupidity, isn’t it?
The fact that there is no declaration of conformity for most of the pressurised gas containers on the market and for consumers is also due to the fact that the market still has containers in its possession from the 1950s and 1960s and that they are still on the market equipped with gas cylinder valves and/or painted with new paint. As far as gas cylinder valves are concerned, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing has already taken a stand on 01.07.2017. This statement can also be found on the GAGT website at www.GAGT.de under the title “Warning”. Many thousands or even millions of pressurised gas containers are still on the market in Europe/Germany, as well as with the consumer, where the manufacturer no longer exists and therefore no “declarations of conformity” can be issued any more and thus would naturally have to be taken off the market. Too bad, dear gas industry and market surveillance bodies, as well as lobbyist associations.
But if you, the customer, now want to know who is the manufacturer of my “pressure vessel” that is on my barbecue or is in my motor caravan or caravan for the gas supply, you will not find anything in the jumble of numbers and signs/letters that could even remotely identify the manufacturer of this pressure vessel. Why don’t you try it out for yourself with your pressurised gas containers? Even professionals like us in the GAGT e.V. have only found what we are looking for in a roundabout way. Even the signatory of this press release is currently in a clinch with a German manufacturer and is fighting for the issuance of a certificate of conformity for his own grey proprietary cylinder purchased in a DIY store. We will see in the next few days how this will turn out.
Let’s take a closer look at the manufacturer market in Europe/Germany. You will see that there is no way to find exactly any manufacturer at all, and this of course applies to all areas of production sites in Europe. If you are looking for a registered association in Germany, for example, simply go to the Internet or contact the Staatsanzeiger-Verlag. The person or association you are looking for will be displayed immediately, with all the required association data. This is not the case with our manufacturers of pressurised gas containers. There is neither a manufacturer’s register, which could give information about the manufacturer, nor a possible contact to answer questions about the respective container. The same is true for a register to identify “technical services” which are authorised to issue “certificates of conformity” for the respective products. Since today and now, it can be said with certainty that the Council Directive 85/374/EEC on liability for defective products, even after the amendment of this directive into 1999/34/EC of 10 May 1999, issued by the “Council of the European Community”, is not even remotely applied in Europe/Germany. Of course, the question must now be asked more and more urgently, what does a “market surveillance authority” actually do, located in Germany at the “upper state authorities” of the federal states and in the federal government at the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA)? What do we need them for?
Could it also be that so-called “Bunga Bunga… experience trips” of employees from authorities and ministries, e.g. to Thailand, of course at the invitation of the industry under the motto: “development aid” on site, combined with a stay in a 5-star hotel, are intended to solve problem cases with corruption, or are also being solved? Many ladies and gentlemen from the industry have already been brought before a court of law in the past by the Federal Cartel Office in Bonn in the area of cartel violations, mainly before the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf, and have of course subsequently been legally sentenced to large sums of millions (well over 150 million). Question: is this also standard practice in the gas industry today in the segment of pressurised gas containers and accessories? This question must be allowed, if we have an almost perfect set of regulations in the EU. However, in order to be able to apply this, two conditions must be fulfilled: one must be able to READ and one must exercise control.
Of course, there are also companies/gas appliance manufacturers who adhere to the European regulations and even implement them almost perfectly. Here, the so-called 4.0 goals have almost been achieved, also with regard to sustainability and more climate friendliness. Among others, this refers to the company ALUGAS in Bad Sobernheim, with all its products. If you take a look at their propane gas “pressurised gas containers”, whether CE-certified or PI-certified, you can not only see perfect “conformity” on the container, but also all the information about ALUGAS and its certification bodies. Of course, you need a mobile phone equipped with an app. QR-& barcode or just a QR code. The world is as simple as that, if you are prepared to invest in the future and consumer friendliness. For people who do not have this technology, a paper “declaration of conformity” is of course handed out with a purchase. But also on the website at www.alugas.de, you will find all information also as download programmes for printing. More consumer friendliness is not possible.
But here is something on our own behalf. The GAGT e.V. has not set out to discredit the “entire gas industry”, as its statutes state. To do this, however, it is necessary for us to separate the wheat from the chaff. We are aware of the fact that there are many companies that would like to contribute more to consumer education. That is why we will actively support them, but only as members of our association, in all matters. We already know today what the market will demand tomorrow, also from the point of view of legislation in the EU, so what is a company in the gas industry still waiting for, so what are they still waiting for!
However, it should also be said that this press statement or circular, however you want to interpret it, will only be the beginning of our reporting this year. All this will also be published on our website at www.gagt.de in four languages in the future. Further reports will focus on the safety of fuel gas containers, on the premises of consumers and the obligation to label pressurised gas containers with UFI codes, by filling companies and much more.
We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that civil proceedings (legal action) for injunctive relief will commence on 18 May 2021 at the Munich I Regional Court. The plaintiff is a manufacturer of pressurised gas containers against a federal association (Verein e.V.). These proceedings are also intended to clarify the extent to which some German testing organisations and their employees, with the connivance of their head offices, knowingly interfered with the provisions of the StVZO in their favour, including financially, by circumventing German law. In this context, training institutes will also be scrutinised more closely. Finally, at the end of these proceedings, the plaintiff will be able to file claims for damages against the parties involved. Please also see the link https://gagt.de/offener-brief.html for a compilation of accusations made by the GAGT e.V. in connection with gas system tests according to DVGW G 607 for motor caravans and caravans against testing organisations.
Attention! The date mentioned at the Regional Court of Munich can, of course, only be met if the court does not decide to postpone the date. We will also react to this and report on the GAGT page.
Thank you for your attention and please remain Corona free.
gez. Peter Ziegler CEO