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Premium, diesel gas mix-up in Franklin Square probed, officials say

The Exxon station at 1111 Hempstead Tpke. in

The Exxon station at 1111 Hempstead Tpke. in Franklin Square. Credit: Lisette Irizarry

A fuel mix-up at a Franklin Square gas station is under investigation after drivers complained their vehicles conked out, Nassau County officials said.

Drivers who thought they were pumping 93-octane, or premium, gasoline over the weekend at the Exxon on Hempstead Turnpike actually got diesel fuel, according to the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs.

“I did get home, and then I had to get milk and the car wouldn’t start,” said Andrew Lazzarano, a BMW owner from Garden City South. “Black smoke was coming out, and I just bought the car two months ago.”

County consumer-affairs officials said they shut down the line of pumps in question as soon as they got the first complaint on Monday. The officials were on site as the station’s fuel-holding tanks were emptied and cleaned with chemicals. The state collected fuel samples for testing, and results are expected within two weeks.

Officials with the gas station and its operator, Bolla Oil Corp. in Garden City, could not be immediately reached Tuesday night.

Lazzarano’s mechanic said affected vehicles will stall or fail to start, as soon as the correct gas remaining in the fuel lines is used up, leaving only diesel fuel.

“In the middle of driving, the car just shuts down and will not start again until the proper fuel gets into the system,” said Andy Papaos, owner of Andy’s Auto Repair in Elmont.

County officials said they received at least two complaints but expect more as drivers learn of the mistake.

“Proper measures had been taken to address the tainted tanks,” Gregory May, acting commissioner of Nassau consumer affairs, said in a statement Tuesday. “An inspector will visit the location to test the new gas upon delivery, and New York State is testing samples taken yesterday.”

Papaos said he had a tough time figuring out what was wrong with Lazzarano’s BMW until a Toyota RAV customer came in with the same problem after stopping at the Exxon station. Sampling the fuel in both vehicles, Papaos saw yellow, the color of diesel.

The cost of flushing and cleaning the fuel system depends on the type of vehicle and the difficulty in taking out the gas tank, the mechanic said. It was about $1,000 for the BMW and $250 for the Toyota, he said.

Lazzarano said he tried several times to restart his BMW on Sunday and Monday, burning out his battery. He said he missed two work days at the Town of Hempstead Sanitation Department and got his car back early Tuesday.

When he went to Bolla’s offices, he was promised a reimbursement, he said.

“Things do happen,” Lazzarano said. “It was a mistake. But I hope they reimburse me. They were nice about it. I just want to get it resolved and I hope there’s no further damage.”

The county consumer affairs officials ask anyone who may have been affected to call them at 516-571-2600.

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