April 24, 2024

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A New Jersey gas station sold contaminated fuel, causing drivers to collapse, officials said

A New Jersey gas station sold contaminated fuel, causing drivers to collapse, officials said

A New Jersey gas station has been closed for the second time in two months after local officials said contaminated gas caused several motorists to become stuck.

“The City of Camden Weights and Measures Department has received numerous complaints regarding a potential fuel contamination issue at the Conoco gas station located at 1901 Admiral Wilson Road in the City of Camden,” city spokesman Vincent Basara said. “Gasoline contamination is likely the result of heavy rainfall seeping into underground storage tanks.”

The gas station was closed Sunday by the city's Department of Licensing and Inspections and will remain closed until city, county and state requirements are met, including paying fines and passing additional inspections, officials said. As many as 16 drivers reported being affected after getting fuel from the station over the weekend, officials said.

Al-Basara said on Tuesday that there was no indication of an environmental danger due to any gas leaking from fuel tanks. Basara said that officials are investigating how the water entered the tanks and whether there was a defect in the seal or cover that contributed to the water entering the tanks.

Basara also added that submersible pumps designed to prevent water from leaking into tanks did not work during the heavy rains on Saturday night, and said that audio and visual alarms that are part of the system to avoid these problems did not work properly either.

Officials are investigating whether the pumps were turned off at the time of the incidents and why they were turned off. Basara said investigators hope surveillance cameras at the gas station will help identify how the pump system failed as well as help identify people affected by the spoiled fuel.

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State documents list Raghubir Singh as the owner of the gas station and Ragvinder Gotra as the operator. A person who answered the phone at the number listed for Singh said the operator was responsible for addressing the issue. The gas station operator could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

The timeline for reform was not immediately clear.

An NJDEP spokesman said Tuesday that the department was alerted about contaminated fuel tanks at Conoco after heavy rains over the weekend and issued a “stop delivery” order until the problem is fixed.

This is the second time in two months that the same gas station has been temporarily closed after water leaked into the fuel tanks. On Jan. 10, the Camden Weights and Measures Department received several complaints about contaminated gas purchased from the site, a letter from Camden Weights and Measures Supervisor Judith Lugo said on Jan. 18.

The letter said 39 customers were affected by the contaminated gas and that independent testing of the fuel showed high levels of water present in gasoline.

The city fined Ghutra and failed to appear in court on March 5 in connection with the January 10 incident, court records show. A new court date is scheduled for May 7. Basara said Tuesday that the gas station had not been cited for similar issues before this year.

The city has issued a batch of subpoenas to Gutra for the January incident, according to municipal court records. He was issued citations for three counts of not readily available registration certificates, two counts of deception in the sale of liquid fuel and 12 counts each of failure to conduct a test, failure to test, and failure to maintain equipment in proper operating condition.

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Gotra was fined $25,000 for the January incident, and if water is discovered in samples taken from fuel tanks earlier this week, more fines could be imposed, city officials said Tuesday.

Basara said on Tuesday that gas stations are subject to inspection annually, adding that inspections will be more frequent after the recent violations.

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Matthew Inoko can be reached at [email protected]. He follows He died on X.