Heavy rains may have caused bad gas at Merrillville gas station
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent April 22, 2013 4:20PM
Updated: April 22, 2013 5:42PM
MERRILLVILLE-- Bad gas dispensed at the Save gas station at 75th and Broadway late last week resulted in car trouble for a handful of customers and a hefty expense for the station’s owner.
Owner Lovely Ghotra said he doesn’t know what caused the gas inside some of the pumps at this station to go bad, but he shut them off right away and paid the auto repair bills of those affected customers who contacted him and presented receipts.
“I can’t figure it out,” Ghotra said Monday when asked what caused water to get into the gas.
He speculated it may have been because the pump was nearly empty, but added he has someone checking into it.
Michelle Matlock, of Merrillville, was filling her car at the station when she noticed the pump was running very slow.
When she went to leave, she knew something was wrong.
“It was gradual. The check engine light came on, the car started to rattle, it wouldn’t accelerate and then it started shaking,” Matlock said.
“I drove on a wing and a prayer to Mike Anderson Chevrolet. It was obvious there was a problem,” she said.
She said her repair bill came out to $830.
Michaela Martin, also of Merrillville, said the repair bill to her 2000 Ford Expedition was $1,046 after getting gas at Save last Thursday.
Martin said she filed a report with Merrillville police and called Ghotra, who she said paid her bill on Friday.
Merrillville police said calls on bad gas should go to the Indiana Health Department’s Weights and Measures Division. A spokesman for that department said the office has received no complaints about Save.
Thomas Collins, Sr., president of Luke Oil in Hobart, which supplies fuel to Save, said it appears the problem was caused by the recent heavy rains and flooding.
“This is not at all unusual in our region during this time of year with increased rainfall. Water can enter a fuel storage system through a multitude of various connection points that may have a problem that does not become evident until water tables rise due to flooding,” Collins said.
He said the underground fuel storage tank with the problem has been isolated and technicians are currently working to correct the problem. He said there are other fuel tanks at the station not affected.
Collins said this was not a refinery or oil company terminal issue. He also said Luke Oil has supplied the same gas station for many years without issue.
A service technician at Shaver Preferred Motors in Merrillville, who didn’t want to be named, said employees there serviced a couple cars on Friday that had just purchased gas at Save. He said one car needed a fuel pump, the other didn’t need a fuel pump but wasn’t running right.
“There was a lot of water in the fuel tank,” he said.
He said Ghotra paid the bills upfront.
Sandi Holeman, fixed operation manager at Mike Anderson Chevrolet in Merrillville, said they repaired three cars affected by the bad gas on Friday. She said one cost $975, one $1,400 and she wasn’t sure about the amount for the third car.
Anyone who feels they were sold bad gas should contact Al Salinas, inspector for Lake County Weights and Measures, at 808-5884.