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Post-Dorian Inspection Turns Up Skimmers

Florida inspectors find several devices but minimal storm damage after hurricane
Photograph: Shutterstock

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services examined gas stations after Hurricane Dorian, they didn’t find any storm damage—but they did discover more than a dozen skimmers at the fuel pumps.

Bureau of Standards personnel inspected 250 gas stations along the East coast of Florida that were most exposed to Hurricane Dorian, checking for water in underground storage tanks (USTs) and looking for credit-card skimmers.

None of the sites suffered significant storm-related damage, according to the inspectors. Two sites’ USTs had water infiltration; one of the sites’ operators had already discovered the problem and stopped selling fuel, while the other location had a water level low enough that it would not contaminate fuel.

During the inspections of the 250 sites, however, personnel found and removed 15 skimmers.

“After a disaster like Hurricane Dorian, we work swiftly to ensure that consumers are protected at the pump—from fraud hitting their wallets to bad fuel hitting their gas tanks,” said Florida Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried.

In June, Fried warned about the high number of skimmers in central Florida after a statewide sweep. She has championed legislation that would create a statewide Consumer Fraud, Identity Theft and Skimmer Working Group to tackle the issue. While previous bills that would have established the task force failed to pass during the 2019 session, Fried expected a new bill for the next legislative session.

Hurricane Dorian also marked the release of a new searchable database of gas stations with backup generators in the state, provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. According to Florida law, gas stations located within one-half mile of an interstate or state or federally designated evacuation route must have access to backup power generators. This does not necessarily mean the gas stations will be open or able to supply fuel, especially if they have been severely damaged.

 

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