ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Several First Coast gas stations have been found to have water in their tanks after Hurricane Irma, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Department confirmed one of the gas stations is the BP at 158 Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park. Susan McLain said she stopped there for gas just before Hurricane Irma hit.
McLain told First Coast News she also stopped at a nearby Speedway the same day to add a little more gas, fearing she would need to evacuate. However, she said she stayed through the storm and didn’t drive her car until the Wednesday after Irma passed. It's unclear whether the Speedway was also contaminated.
“It was shaking and the check engine light was flashing and I finally got it to where it would pull out of the driveway and started down the road and the RPMs wouldn’t go,” McLain said. “And I was literally going down Blanding 20 miles to 23 miles an hour in the slow lane.”
McLain said her Honda Civic had never experienced those problems before and she didn’t realize what may have happened until later.
“Came back and listened to the news and you guys said that there was bad gas and I thought ‘uh oh, that might be me,’” she said.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed the BP McLain stopped at is among around 50 gas stations statewide where water got into the tanks. A Department spokesperson said this is common during heavy rain and flooding.
The BP station pumps were temporarily shut down. An inspector reopened them Tuesday afternoon, telling First Coast News samples would still be sent out for testing and if those samples fail, there could be action from the state. The Department spokesperson said since the issue appeared to be remedied, no penalty would be issued at this time.
Other First Coast gas stations to get water in tanks, according to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, include:
- 890 Blanding Blvd, Orange Park
- 2921 Monument Rd., Jacksonville
- 3160 Division St., Jacksonville
- 2476 Blanding Blvd., Middleburg
McLain spoke with the owner of the gas station Tuesday afternoon about the situation and told First Coast News the owner offered to take care of the damage through his insurance and help her with a rental in the meantime. The owner declined to go on camera but said he will work with people impacted to remedy the situation.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said people who suspect they bought bad gas should contact the Department first so they can send someone out to test the tanks. After that, consumers should notify the gas station, because in many cases, they will work with the customer. If that fails, customers can reach back out to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and file a complaint, and the Department will mediate with the business on the consumer’s behalf.