Nevada's consumer authority for oversight of gas stations is investigating how a batch of bad gas made it to North Carson City's Eagle Gas, and into the cars of at least a handful of drivers.
Ed Hoganson, administrator for the state Department of Agriculture's Division of Measurement Standards, said the contaminated gas was removed from Eagle's tanks and taken back to its original port in Redwood City, Calif.
"The truck is identified and we are going to intercept it and take samples of the gas," he said. "We know that Eagle Gas voluntarily took the bad gas out of their tanks and substituted it."
The substituted gasoline has reportedly been found to be clean.
Gas supplier River City Petroleum, a Sacramento company, said California's department of weights and measures is testing the fuel to determine the defect and the chain of custody and liability. The company said it is likely all companies that handled the gas have insurance to cover the approximately 11 vehicles damaged from 87-octane fuel pumped between 6-7:45 a.m. Saturday morning.
The bad gas had been delivered to the station earlier that morning.
Company Vice President John Willow said cases of contamination are rare, but are usually related to a higher-than-normal water content in the gas.
"We are waiting for the final analysis, but water can get in the tanks," he said from the company's Sacramento office. "Tanks can get condensation or rain. Typically it goes to the bottom.
"It's not common, but it does happen."
Meanwhile, station owner Mohammad Ahmad said he plans to compensate customers for vehicle damage.
"Of course I have lost a lot of business," he said. "They're testing it right now. If the company's insurance is not fast enough, I will reimburse them myself.
"I don't want a bad reputation."
More than 1 billion gallons of gasoline are imported in Nevada each year, most of it by pipeline, Hoganson said.
Each station in the state is tested at least once a year to determine that pumps are accurately dispensing gas, and that gas being pumped is what is advertised. When a complaint is filed against a station, the department tests pumps again, and can cite station operators for deficiencies.