Bad gas stalls cars in New Jersey

April 18, 2008 6:00:39 PM PDT
A gasoline distributor said Friday that a batch of water-contaminated gasoline that stalled dozens of cars on New Jersey roads was delivered to 10 service stations in the Garden State. NuStar Energy of Linden said it verified the tainted product had been shipped to Lukoil stations in Fair Lawn, Bloomfield Parkway North and South, Fort Lee, Melton, Newark and Belleville; Wawa stations in Whiting and Wall, and a K&J station in Paterson.

More than 60 cars stalled along the Garden State Parkway Thursday evening, said highway spokesman Joe Orlando. Police also reported at least 11 stalled cars in Wall Township.

Orlando said the incidents didn't affect traffic, but that there was a shortage of tow-trucks to deal with the large volume of stranded motorists.

"It's just not a scenario we deal with regularly," he said.

NuStar released a statement saying it "deeply regretted the error." It said the incident was under investigation, but that operator error was believed to be a factor. It said water contamination occurred during the process of converting storage tanks from winter blends of gas to summer gas - a federal anti-pollution requirement.

Lukoil spokesman George Wilkins said the company was offering reimbursement for repairs and rental cars to affected motorists. The company set up a telephone hot line for assistance where motorists could leave a message.

Water can cause a car to stall because it is heavier than gas.

"The gas is always sucked from the bottom, so if you put water in the tank, all you will do is pump water," said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline C-store Automotive Association.

Risalvato said that while water won't usually ruin a car engine, it can be a costly repair - on average $500 to $1,000 per car - because the gas lines must be completely drained and cleaned.

NuStar said late Friday that eight of the affected stations were back in service after the contaminated fuel was removed. The remaining stations were expected to be back in service sometime Saturday, the company said.

Lukoil station owner Goldy Dhesi of Highland Park said although his station did not receive the bad gas, the incident delayed his gas delivery on Friday morning and he had nearly run out of inventory. He said he reached the distributor Friday afternoon and they told him things would be back to normal by Saturday.

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On the Net:

Lukoil: www.lukoilamericas.com

Lukoil hot line: 877-858-9962


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