A day after the state’s governor declared a state of emergency over the storm, state officials said Florida residents are facing “potentially widespread” fuel pollution along the state’s Gulf Coast that could damage vehicles as Tropical Storm Idalia approaches and residents are likely to struggle. Evacuation orders.
Fuel purchased after 10 a.m. Saturday at Port Tampa terminals supplied by Citgo has a strong chance of contamination. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said on Sunday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday that the contamination occurred through accidental mixing of diesel and gasoline.
“Basically it was just human error,” he added. “They put diesel in the tanks that were supposed to be regular gas.”
The state’s Department of Agriculture listed about 30 gas stations that could be affected, while warning that diesel-contaminated gasoline could cause engine damage or affect the vehicle’s ability to operate.
In many cases, drivers may only be able to drive a few miles before the engine stalls, which can create a potentially dangerous situation for those attempting to evacuate.
With Tropical Storm Idalia expected to intensify, officials warned that evacuation notices could be issued. Florida Department of Emergency Management he told the residents to keep their fuel tanks full to at least halfway in case emergency evacuation orders are issued.
Mr. DeSantis said the contamination could “complicate” matters if an evacuation is needed, but added that the state has launched an investigation into what happened.
“People are probably stuck on the side of the road,” he said on Sunday. “I mean, if you fill up the gas tank with diesel and start driving it, it doesn’t end well.”
It asked stations affected by pollution to stop selling gas until polluted fuel is replaced and tanks are cleaned.
The state Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to questions about how many plants had completed these steps.
Lisa Wolfe Chason, a spokeswoman for the Port of Tampa Bay, said the port was aware of the contamination at the Citgo gas station but added that the station was not affiliated with the port and that the company’s operations were not under the port’s authority or oversight.
“The port has been in contact with our five partner gas station operators and has assured them of their readiness to deliver fuel and support consumers as Tropical Storm Adalia approaches and moves through our region,” she said.
A Citgo representative said the company discovered the tainted product on Saturday and is coordinating efforts to remove it from retail locations where it was acquired.
Both gasoline and diesel come from crude oil, but they are chemically different, according to The Verge. National Motorists Associationand when they are mixed can damage the engine.
The organization advises drivers not to start the engine and to have the tank flushed by a mechanic.
Kevin Guthrie, executive director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, said Sunday that the agency is working to ensure the contamination is addressed quickly.
Mr. Guthrie said state officials are coordinating “with everyone, from oil retailers to the ports themselves, to ensure disruption is not widespread or prolonged, and residents have easy access to fuel.”
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