ABERDEEN, N.C. (WNCN) – A fuel foul-up is causing car problems for several drivers in Hoke County.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture said diesel fuel at the Alco #27 on Highway 211 in Aberdeen was contaminated with gasoline last week.
“This will not be my gas station anymore, so I need to find a new one,” said Robin Berry.
Berry said her two sons filled up their tanks with what they though was gasoline at the Alco last Tuesday. However, a few days later, both of her sons ran into serious car trouble.
“They just noticed it wasn’t running right,” said Berry. “He pushed the pedal to the metal, to the floor, and it barely got moving.”
After towing one car, and taking another to a dealership, mechanics told Berry there was diesel fuel in both gasoline tanks.
The Department of Agriculture says there was a fuel delivery at the Alco station in the morning on July 2.
According to a report by the Department of Agriculture, an inspector found a separated mixture of ethanol and water in the diesel underground storage tank.
“This problem only forms in gasoline storage tanks where ethanol enriched fuel is stored, and the fact that it was present in the diesel tank is indicative of the fuel being contaminated with gasoline at some point,” said Marcus Helfrich, the Program Manager for the Motor Fuels Laboratory at the Department of Agriculture in a statement.
In addition, Helfrich said lab tests found the diesel samples to have a flash point well below the legal minimum required by state law.
The Department of Agriculture says mix-ups like this are rare but do happen, usually because of human error during delivery.
Helfrich said there are no detectors on tanks to indicate if it’s been filled with the wrong fuel.
While the Alco’s regular unleaded gasoline passed field testing, Helfrich said Albemarle Oil, the company that filled the tanks, is paying out claims as if the gasoline was also contaminated.
Berry also said Albemarle Oil Co. has been very responsive to her complaints.
However, she says the mix-up is a big problem in the rural farm community because many of her neighbors who rely on their trucks and tractors all fill up at that Alco.
“Their vehicle’s been in the shop so he’s lost several days of business. Now their tractor is inoperable. They can’t do the things they need to do (like) moving hay and bales,” said Berry.
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