Motorists Dealing With Tainted Fuel at Louisiana Gas Stations

ExxonMobil shuts down terminal to investigate "potential issue"

Exxon gas station

BATON ROUGE, La. -- More than five million gallons of tainted gasoline shipped from the Exxon Mobil Corp. Baton Rouge, La., terminal in mid-March is causing the intake and valve systems of vehicles to "gum up," Mike Strain, Louisiana's Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry, told The Advocate.

Strain has been in contact with ExxonMobil officials since late Wednesday about the bad fuel. The problem was confined to two batches of gasoline shipped between March 12 and March 15, totaling 120,000 barrels, the report said.

"We have been made aware of a potential issue with regular unleaded gasoline purchased at select locations in the Baton Rouge, La., area and immediately opened an investigation," ExxonMobil said in a statement. "As a precaution, we have closed the Baton Rouge terminal gasoline loading racks pending the outcome of our investigation and resolution of any identified problems. We take matters such as this seriously and are working with our wholesale customers. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers and motorists."

About half of the gasoline sold in metro Baton Rouge comes from the Exxon terminal, Strain said.

"What we think is something got in the fuel that shouldn't have gotten in," Strain said. Agents from the Department of Agriculture & Forestry's Weights & Measures Division are testing gasoline from several Baton Rouge gas stations for a variety of factors, from sulfur content, to octane, to flash point in an attempt to find out what the substance is, the report said. Exxon product quality managers are working with the state on the tests. "We need to know exactly what compound we are dealing with," Strain said.

Strain said his office has received approximately two-dozen complaints from consumers about bad fuel. All of the calls have come from metro Baton Rouge and Lafayette, said the report.

"We are taking this matter seriously and are investigating the issue to determine the cause," said an additional company statement cited by the newspaper. "We want customers to know that the fuel currently at stations meets Louisiana's stringent regulatory requirements and is safe for use in vehicles. We stand by our products, and we are 100% committed to working with our customers and motorists to honor valid claims,"

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