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A case of the diesels: gas station causes damage during Sandy

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During Hurricane Sandy, the high demand on gasoline for cars and generators caused gas stations to overflow with customers, which ultimately prompted Governor Chris Christie to order gas rationing for many NJ counties. Unfortunately for some New Jerseyans, the rush for fuel caused a mix-up at the pumps and they received diesel rather than unleaded fuel in their gas tanks.

According to a South Brunswick police report, the Hess gas station on Route 1 North and Finnegan’s Lane in North Brunswick accidentally administered diesel fuel into their customer’s cars and gas cans on Saturday, November 3. This can cause damage to both their vehicles and generators.

The police report noted that Hess pumps were mistakenly filled will diesel and that anyone experiencing a problem should contact Hess’s corporate office.

Yaas Lundy of South Brunswick experienced problems with her 2008 Nissan Altima shortly after filling up at the same Hess gas station Saturday morning. According to Lundy, she got gas from there the Thursday prior and had no problem.

“My boyfriend mentioned he didn’t notice the normal gasoline smell while we were filling up Saturday,” said Lundy.

After driving about 10 minutes away to her destination, she didn’t notice anything wrong with the car. It wasn’t until she tried starting it again when she noticed a difference.

“The engine cranked and had a low start and then just shut off,” said Lundy.

She was able to successfully start her car after a few tries but experienced the same problems throughout the weekend along with an abnormal smell coming from her muffler.

According to Lundy, she drove her car to the store the following Monday and as she started it up to leave, the steering wheel locked and smoke began to rise from under the car’s hood. Lundy then had the car towed to her house.

In an interview with the VOICE, mechanic and owner of Luca’s Auto Service in New Brunswick, Carlos Iberos, said he had five customers bring in their cars between Saturday and Monday all experiencing similar problems and all who previously got gas from the same Hess.

Iberos has 30 years of experience with cars and said it didn’t take him long to diagnose the problem.”You can tell its diesel because the cars are shaking and the muffler smelled like diesel not fuel,” said Iberos.

He also explained that the cars are an easy fix and will take about two hours each to work on. The price range per car to fix will be anywhere from $585 to $885, depending on the car.

After contacting Hess’s corporate office, Iberos was given a case number.

“Hess is paying for all of the damage and were very cooperative,” said Iberos.

An updated report from South Brunswick police stated that the Hess station was immediately shut down after the first few customer complaints, 35 in all. The tanks were then emptied and cleaned.

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