ORLANDO, Florida – A motorist received a vehicle repair bill for nearly $ 13,000 after he reported filling the tank with contaminated diesel fuel purchased at an Orlando gas station.
State inspectors determined that the diesel fuel stored in the station’s underground tank contained 99 percent water, records show.
The service station’s insurance provider would help the customer pay the cost of repairing their vehicle, the state has temporarily banned the station from selling diesel fuel until it resolves the contamination issue. the water.
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Nathanial Madanick drove his 2013 Audi Q7 SUV to the Amoco station at 601 N. John Young Parkway in early September, drawn in part by a fuel discount promotion offered to military veterans.
Shortly after starting to put diesel fuel in his SUV, Madanick said the fuel pump became extremely slow.
“It was almost comical the way he was slowing down,” Madanick said.
He claims to have waited more than 20 minutes to finish filling his tank in order to maximize his recovery.
Although Madanick was able to walk away from the pump, he said the car stalled a few hundred feet from the gas station property.
“This is a grunt, nasty, awful stop. The car dies completely, ”said Madanick.
He recorded a video which showed him unable to restart contact.
The SUV was towed to a mechanic, who later determined that the car sustained nearly $ 13,000 in damage to its fuel system.
“(The mechanic) said they had never seen anything like it,” Madanick said. “He’s seen contaminated fuel before, but nothing that bad. “
Upon returning from the gas station, Madanick contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), a state agency that oversees fuel quality.
The next day, an FDACS inspector took a diesel fuel sample from the same pump used by Madanick.
“The product dispensed was 99% water,” read an inspection summary.
The FDACS immediately issued a “stop selling” order prohibiting the gas station from selling diesel fuel until it can demonstrate that the contamination issue has been resolved.
The station is allowed to continue selling gasoline and other products.
Mital Saraiya, one of the owners of the gas station, said he voluntarily stopped selling diesel before the state intervened and asked the company’s insurer to look into the claim. for damage to Madanick’s vehicle.
“We apologize for having had to go through this,” gas station manager Ruben Monroe said. “Our gas did it.”
Monroe told News 6 that the underground diesel fuel storage tank has been properly maintained since the company bought the gas station about a year ago.
Although the tanks are already undergoing monthly inspections, the official said the gas station will now perform manual inspections on a weekly basis.
Monroe suggested that the extremely slow fuel pump should have been a sign to the customer that something is wrong.
A representative from FDACS told News 6 that the slow fuel delivery is unrelated to contamination and does not affect fuel quality.
“There is no way for a consumer to identify contaminated fuel before distributing it,” said FDACS spokeswoman Erin Moffet. “However, consumers can help protect themselves by being aware of their surroundings. If a station parking lot is flooded, the consumer should avoid purchasing fuel at that location, as underground storage tanks can become contaminated with water if the gaskets of the tank fills are missing or damaged.
The agency encourages motorists to immediately contact FDACS at 1-800-HELP-FLA if they believe they have purchased contaminated fuel.
“The Bureau of Standards (FDACS) responds to all fuel-related complaints, but it is essential to conduct an inspection quickly to detect any issues that may exist,” Moffet said.
In the most recent fiscal year, FDACS received 444 consumer complaints regarding fuel quality.
The agency carries out about 400,000 inspections on petroleum devices and its laboratories carry out more than 37,000 fuel analyzes, according to the spokesperson.
Another state agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, also launched an inspection at the Orlando gas station in response to Madanick’s complaint.
The Orange County Environmental Protection Division, which conducted the inspection on behalf of the state, identified two “high priority” non-compliance issues and seven related minor Florida code violations. to the underground fuel storage tanks of the gas station.
Saraiya, one of the owners of the gas station, told News 6 that the company is working to address state and county concerns.
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