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Officials: Diesel tanks tainted by premium gas in Franklin Square

A Bolla maintenance truck outside the Exxon gas

A Bolla maintenance truck outside the Exxon gas station on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square. Credit: Lisette Irizarry

Workers who pumped diesel fuel into a premium gas storage tank last weekend put high-octane fuel in a diesel storage tank, Nassau officials said Friday in an update of the mishap at a Franklin Square Exxon station.

Drivers using a 93-octane fuel pump at the Exxon on Hempstead Turnpike actually got diesel fuel last weekend, prompting the county consumer affairs office to shut down that line of pumps Monday and test samples of newly-delivered fuel after the holding tanks had been cleaned chemically.

The sample drawn from the cleaned 93-octane tank passed inspection, officials said.

Consumer affairs officials said Friday they had ordered the diesel pump shut down after tests indicated the 93-octane premium was pumped into the diesel holding tank during the weekend mix up.

Octane still showed up in the diesel after the tanks had been flushed out, county officials said. That means the cleaning was not thorough enough or the delivered fuel since the mishap was possibly contaminated, they said.

It was not known if any customers driving diesel-fueled vehicles had engine problems. A diesel-octane mix is a potentially dangerous situation for drivers who pump tainted fuel, county officials said. The contamination lowers the combustion flashpoint in the engines, making the fuel “extremely flammable” and leading to loud noises when the vehicle is driven, they said.

“We’re going to continuing testing the pumps,” said Gregory May, commissioner of the Nassau County consumer affairs office. “We’re not going to let any gas station sell substandard fuel.”

The investigation started after two drivers complained their vehicles had conked out, and their mechanic found diesel in the gas tanks. Since then, the office has gotten about 25 complaints, officials said.

It’s not clear how many diesel car drivers got 93 octane before the pumps were shut down Monday, county officials said, but they noted that most vehicles use gas.

The Bolla Oil Corp. in Garden City, which owns the station, has indicated it will take care of affected drivers, county officials said.

May said complaints must be put in writing and encouraged drivers to contact his office at 516-571-2600 or download the consumer affairs complaint form. He urged drivers to save receipts from the Exxon station.

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