British Columbia

B.C. gas station owner comes clean about accidentally selling diesel-gas mixture

An Osoyoos, B.C., gas station owner is coming clean about an accidental mix of diesel and gasoline in the service station's main tanks which was sold to customers for a period of about four hours last month.

He's covering repair costs for motorists who filled their tanks with damaging blend in Osoyoos

An estimated 4,500 litres of mixed gasoline and diesel fuel was sold at the Osoyoos Shell station in January before the error was discovered, according to owner Gagandeep Singh Atwal. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

An Osoyoos, B.C., gas station owner is coming clean about a mistake that created a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline in the station's tanks and was sold to customers for a period of about four hours last month.

On Wednesday, Gagandeep Singh Atwal, co-owner of the Shell station in Osoyoos, wrote on a local Facebook page about the mix-up, which happened on the afternoon of Jan. 30.

"The fuel delivery driver erroneously dumped one compartment of regular gas in the diesel tank and one compartment of diesel in the regular gas tank," Atwal wrote.

"We stopped selling both regular gas and diesel to customers when we got to know about the driver's error."

Motorists who filled up with either regular gasoline or diesel between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. may have been affected by the fuel mix-up, he wrote, explaining that two customers had already been identified and reimbursed for repairs to their vehicles.

'Purely human error'

"This is purely a human error made by the delivery driver," he wrote. 

"We are committed to stand by our customers and will take care of their repair costs incurred due to this error."

In an interview with CBC News, Atwal estimated 4,500 litres of mixed fuel was sold before he became aware of the situation and shut down the pumps.

Dozens to more than 100 motorists may have filled their tanks with the diesel-gasoline mixture, he said. 

Since he wrote the post, Atwal said more than a dozen other motorists have contacted him.

"There are lots of invoices that have shown up," he said. "We are paying them out of our pocket and then we will deal with the insurance at our end."

Repair costs to drain fuel mixture

One of the motorists who filled up with the fuel mixture showed up at Osoyoos Mechanics after their vehicle broke down, according to shop owner Lukas Gedminas.

His mechanic had to remove the fuel tank and the fuel pump in order to siphon the fuel mixture out of the tank and worked on the car for more than two and a half hours to get it running again, he said.

"The fuel pump should be alright," Gedminas said. "The catalytic converter will probably be the main concern. Potentially, it could plug up prematurely," he said.

Worse, Gedminas said, is putting gasoline in a diesel engine.

"Gasoline is somewhat abrasive, so that would just not work well with any diesel engine parts, especially injectors."

'People have been really supportive'

Gedmisas praised the gas station for taking responsibility for the mistake. And he wasn't the only one. 

By Thursday afternoon more than 100 people had commented on Atwal's social media post with the vast majority commending the gas station for being forthcoming about the situation and promising to do right by his customers.

Atwal said the positive response to the serious fuel mix-up has been surprising.

"I was thinking people were going to shout at us [or] we were going to have rude customers coming into our gas station," he said.

"People have been really supportive."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

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