UPDATE: Pumps open at Victory Fuels after fuel contamination - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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UPDATE: Pumps open at Victory Fuels after fuel contamination

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RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The state has given the "OK" for one North Georgia gas station to sell fuel again, after a 3 on Your Side report revealed water in the tanks. The contaminated fuel damaged cars and left customers stranded.

The owner of Victory Fuels shut down the pumps as soon as he learned about the problem early Monday morning. He took the necessary steps to fix the issue and now all pumps are back open.

It is back to pumping gas at Victory Fuels on Battlefield Parkway. “You've seen the samples contaminated compared to samples of clean gas. Big difference, big difference,” said the owner of Victory Fuels, Mike Merchant.

It was business as usual Monday morning until the first complaint came in. “Bad gas was removed, tanks were cleared, lines were cleaned, changed the filters.”

Crews with the Department of Agriculture arrived to collect samples on Wednesday after receiving complaints. “Pulled samples, he tested everything that needed to be done, on sight he visually inspected the fuel, said it was clear,” said the Assistant Director of Fuel and Measures Division with Georgia Department of Agriculture Doug Killingsworth.

When Channel 3's story ran, additional complaints surfaced and the state closed the pumps as a precautionary measure. Channel 3 was there Thursday morning as crews conducted a second inspection. “It is bright and clear, we feel like there's no issue here.”

The gas will be further tested before an official all clear is given. Until then owner Mike Merchant is liable for all the gas he sells. “I am 100% confident. We sold all day yesterday and no issues. We are selling now and there are no issues. If there was you will pull out and your cars going to stop,” said Merchant.

He said nothing like this has ever happened before and it's still not clear how water got into the tanks. He hopes his customers will continue to support his business. “We didn't do it on purpose, finding out what the problem is. Who have been coming in for years, come back, we won't have issues again. I can guarantee that.”

If you believe you bought bad gas provide a receipt for the fuel and vehicle damage to employees at Victoria Fuels.


PREVIOUS STORY: The state will not let a local store sell gas after several cars started having problems with its fuel. Customers said their cars broke down feet away from the gas station.    

The regular and plus pumps at Victory Fuels are shut off after the state received multiple complaints Wednesday morning about bad fuel. Customers were left stranded and now they want the person responsible to pay for the repairs.

Scott Niles had just finished filling up his tank at Victory Fuels when. “I got to TJ Arnolds, 100 yards behind the store and the engine quit running.  The fuel pump wouldn't come on, a tow truck came and got the car.” After two days at the shop and a 350 dollar bill “New fuel pump, new fuel filter, and flushing the lines.”

Niles said his mechanic found water in the fuel. “I paid $1.78 a gallon for 5 gallons and I got probably 4 gallons of water and 1 gallon of fuel.”

He brought in a jar of the contaminated fuel to show the store owner and try to get some answers. “Madder than a mash-cat!! It is uncalled for in my opinion.”

If water and fuel are pumped into a vehicle, it can create  a lot of issues. “It leaves you stranded, that's pretty bad. Anytime you are stuck on the side of the road it is not a good situation,” said Bo Roy with Quality Tires.

Roy said there are different ways water can get mixed in the tanks. But customers won't know until it’s too late. “There is no way to tell while pumping the gas if there is water there. Once it starts running you will know something's going on.”

The cost to fix damages depends on how much water gets into the fuel tank. “How much work has to be done to flush the contaminants out of the engine. It could be up to $1,000.”

Something Niles isn't willing to fork out himself.

When Channel 3 reached out to the store owner he said they were working to fix the issues. State officials took samples of the fuel Wednesday morning to send to a lab for testing. The pumps will remain closed until the results come back and the problem is fixed.

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