September 2, 2014

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UPDATED: Diesel mishap shreds Medina Twp. gas tanks

If you think your vehicle has been damaged from the Pearl Road Sunoco gas station, call (800) 786-6261.

MEDINA TWP. — A mixup that put diesel fuel instead of gasoline into the pumps at a Pearl Road Sunoco station and two other area service stations has damaged hundreds of vehicles.

Ryan Reynolds, 37, of Medina Township, said his mother, Barbara Reynolds, filled up from the 87-octane gasoline pump at the station, 3980 Pearl Road, Tuesday morning.

The Sunoco on Pearl Road, Medina Township, closed all eight of its pumps Monday evening. Owner Al Patel said it was the result of a water contamination, but several sources point to diesel being mixed with 87 octane fuel. NICK GLUNT/GAZETTE

“She took it to the dealership once it started sputtering and they told her there was diesel in the tank,” he said.

Reynolds said the dealership estimated it would cost $1,500 to repair his mother’s vehicle.

Diesel fuel instead of gasoline also was sold from two GetGo service stations — on Medina Road in Fairlawn, in Summit County, and Lincoln Way East in Massillon, in Stark County.

GetGo, which is owned by Giant Eagle, apologized in a news release, explaining that a wholesale fuel terminal operator, Bulk Terminal Storage, acknowledged that the two GetGo stations had gotten shipments of 87-octane gasoline that had been mistakenly mixed with diesel fuel.

The news release said “at least one other area fuel retailer was also impacted,” but did not identify the third outlet as the Medina Sunoco station.

GetGo customers who purchased either 87- or 89-octane fuel from either of the company’s two stations were told to call Giant Eagle at (800) 553-2324 to file for reimbursement for fuel system repairs to their vehicles.

It is unclear what customers of the Sunoco station should do to seek reimbursement.

A spokesperson for Sunoco did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Reynolds said he was given “the runaround” when he went to the station.

All eight pumps at the service station were taped off Tuesday evening.

Al Patel, who identified himself as the owner of the station, said the pumps were shut down because of water contamination.

Workers at a car repair center, North Gateway Tire, across Pearl Road from the service station, said they have been getting calls “all day Wednesday” from motorists who said they had gotten fuel from the Sunoco station.

“One of our guys got diesel in their tank, too,” said Mark Dravis, Gateway Tire service director. “He went over there and they told him it was a tanker that dumped diesel into the tank there.”

Diesel and gasoline smell the same, he said, so there’s no way anyone could tell the difference in what was being pumped.

Dravis said the symptoms of diesel contamination are black smoke from the tailpipes and “a smell like a kerosene heater.”

Dravis said he has been giving out estimates averaging about $600 for repairs. But he said every car is different.

One of those estimates was given to Bob Phillips, 70, of Medina Township.

“We live really close to Sunoco, and we stop there all the time,” he said.

He said his wife, Betty, filled up there Tuesday morning and her car sputtered all the way to work in Cleveland and back home.

“She’s lucky, I guess, that she got home without too much trouble,” Phillips said. “But this morning, the car wouldn’t start.”

Phillips said he could afford to bring the car in to North Gateway to be fixed.

“What about the people who don’t have $500 or two cars like we do?” Phillips said. “For some people, it would be a gigantic problem.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.