Contaminated gas found in 3 states, refinery admits mistake

Posted at: 10/10/2013 6:14 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Roughly 100 people believe they pumped diluted gasoline into their vehicles earlier this week at a half dozen Giant convenience stores, according to the company tied to the problem.

A spokesperson for Western Refining, which owns Giant, told 4 On Your Side that a gasket failed on a large petroleum storage tank near Gallup.

"We have a number of safety processes and quality control processes in place, but one of the seals failed and allowed some water to leak into that tank, and it once it did, it got into a couple loads of our gasoline," spokesperson Gary Hanson said.

Hanson said company workers did not realize the leak occurred until a customer called to complain on Tuesday.

He said customers would not have been able to determine if the gas was contaminated.

About a half dozen Giant convenience stores were affected -- including one in Rio Rancho on Route 528, and one in Albuquerque on Paradise and Universe Boulevards.  The remaining stations are in: Show Low and Springerville, Arizona; Cortez and Durango, Colorado.

Hanson said drivers who believe their vehicles have damage from the contaminated should call the company's claims line at 1-877-511-1012..  He said they should have a receipt as proof of purchase and a damage estimate from a mechanic.

"The process will probably take a couple of days.  Once they get the repairs, our intent is to collect the receipts and get them a check as soon as we possibly can," he said.

Hanson said the claims line is operating smoothly, however a few callers say they're having trouble getting answers.

"I haven't heard anything," driver Ramona Lopez said.

She called the number after her 3-week-old Chevy Equinox failed to start on Tuesday after a fill-up at the Giant store in Rio Rancho.

Lopez had the dealer tow the vehicle for repairs.  Mechanics determined the gasoline contained water.

"They said it will cost probably $1,800 to fix," she said.

Dealers across the Albuquerque metro said they're working with more and more customers who have the same type of damage.

Meanwhile, workers at the refinery are still trying to figure out what failed.

"I don't have all the answers just yet, but obviously you try to learn from your mistakes and this is something that we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," Hanson said.