Some pumps at West Columbia gas station still shut down after water found in gasoline

Some pumps at West Columbia gas station still shut down after water found in gasoline

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Water and gasoline literally and figuratively do not mix.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture says watered down gasoline can tear up your engine and turn into a costly mess. That's why when they heard that a Lexington County station might be selling the potentially tainted gas, they took immediate action.

Daniel Jennings depends on his car for work but right now, he's driving a rental. His new 2015 Dodge is still in the shop.

"I noticed whenever I got in the car, [My fiance] was sitting in the car, and she noticed it started shaking and making a weird noise," Jennings said. "She turned it off. I came out, turned it back on, and the engine light came on."

Jennings said his mechanic told him the culprit was water in his gasoline, which led him to the A-One Express gas station, up the road from Columbia Metropolitan Airport, where Jennings says he filled up back on July 12.

"The guy wanted to basically fight over it, and didn't want nothing to do with it," Jennings said.

It ultimately led Jennings to the state Department of Agriculture's Consumer Protection Division.

"We actually do a lot of things that are kind of undercover and kind of behind the scenes to protect the consumer," Derek Underwood with the Consumer Protection Division at the SC Department of Agriculture, said.

Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood said a sample was collected on July 27.

And on July 28, the department put a "Stop Sale Notice" on A-One after water was found in unleaded gasoline.

"Rain, condensation, flooding, even from the distributor itself, yeah, water can get into the tanks through a lot of different means," Underwood said.

Underwood said since the end of July, the pumps are still closed. And there's seemingly been no action taken to fix the problem.

"They're losing revenue, so if a water complaint comes in, a lot of times gas stations take the prerogative to go ahead and start that corrective action process before we're even notified," Underwood said.

Jennings, meanwhile, is growing impatient and hoping the filling station will soon reimburse the $1,100 worth of damaged that he said watered down fuel did to his car.

"It's been very, very stressful," Jennings said. "I've been having to deal with, you know, them calling me at work complaining, 'Oh, we can't do this. We can't do that. The payment's too much.'"

We did get answers from the gas station owner on Friday. He said he does wish to reimburse his customers and has only received two complaints about watered down gas.

He said he hasn't made repairs, because he believes it's the distributors fault, not the gas station's.

However, the owner said the distributor is blaming him.

Jennings, by the way, said he desperately needs the reimbursement, because the issue voided the warranty on his new car that had just 14 miles on it before the incident.

Jennings is just one example of a case of watered down gas.

The Department of Agriculture reported 15 other violations from Midlands gas stations over the past year.

Most problems are fixed very quickly after they're identified.

The Department of Agriculture said if you suspect something is wrong with your gasoline, call them immediately at the number you see on the pump. That's what they're there for.

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