The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) issued an urgent warning on Sunday regarding a significant fuel contamination issue. This potential widespread contamination is the result of human error during fuel handling at the Port of Tampa. Fuel purchased from specific stations supplied by Citgo from the Port of Tampa after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, is believed to be tainted with diesel fuel.
Gas Stations Affected
Several gas stations across Florida’s Gulf Coast have reportedly received the contaminated fuel. The FDACS released a list of these stations, which includes:
- 7-Eleven outlets across various locations including Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, and Brooksville.
- BJ’s Wholesale in Cape Coral and Fort Myers.
- Handy Foods Stores in Alva and Lehigh Acres.
- Several other independent and unbranded stations.
Impact of Contamination
Experts have warned about the severe consequences of using contaminated gasoline. Mixing diesel with gasoline can lead to engine damage and even render vehicles completely inoperable. In light of this, affected gas stations have been directed to halt fuel sales until the contaminated fuel has been replaced.
Approaching Storm Adds to the Woes
The announcement of the fuel contamination comes at a time when Florida is bracing for the impending Tropical Storm Idalia. Expected to escalate into a hurricane, it poses a direct threat to the west coast of Florida, coincidentally where the contaminated fuel has been distributed. Governor Ron DeSantis voiced concerns about the unfortunate timing during a press conference focused on storm preparations. “You’re going to have people potentially just stuck on the side of the road,” DeSantis remarked, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.
Citgo’s Role and Repercussions
Citgo, the company responsible for the distribution of the contaminated fuel, has a terminal situated in Port Tampa Bay. Although situated within the port, the terminal is privately held. Thus, any details about the human error resulting in fuel contamination would need to be provided directly by Citgo, according to Lisa Wolf-Chason, spokesperson for Port Tampa Bay. She further added, “They employ their own people, they have their own operators, and they own the land they operate off of.”
State officials have taken prompt actions to address the situation:
- An official hotline (1-800-435-7352) has been set up for complaints from individuals who suspect they purchased the compromised fuel.
- The state is closely working with petroleum retailers, ports, and other stakeholders to ensure the fuel supply remains uninterrupted.
- Measures like waiving certain restrictions have been adopted by the Florida Department of Emergency Management to expedite resource movement within the state.
What Consumers Should Do
If you suspect that you’ve purchased gas from the affected stations after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, it is advised to report it to FDACS immediately. Complaints can be registered through the hotline or online at www.fdacs.gov.
As Florida gears up to face the upcoming storm, the fuel contamination issue adds another layer of challenges. Both the state officials and suppliers are working diligently to mitigate the situation and ensure the safety and convenience of Florida residents.