Mostly water

Gasoline sits atop of water and sediment in a sample taken by Department of Food and Agriculture from a pump at the Shell gas station at 2402 Highland Ave. on Oct. 8.

The Highland Avenue Shell gas station is again selling 87 and 89 octane fuel after repairing a failed check valve and passing Department of Agriculture and Measures testing and approval processes.

The station stopped selling 87 and 89 fuel on Oct. 9 when water was found in a sample pumped out by the Department of Agriculture and Measures.

According to station owner Salik Ikram, the problem was a failure of the check valve, which was replaced last week along with a turbine. The Department of Agriculture and Measures retested the fuel and pumps earlier this week and approved the station to continue selling all octanes.

Ikram shared that the pumps are fitted with water sensing filters that do not allow them to pump out water and the station noticed there was a problem when the pumps stopped pumping.

Working with contractors and obtaining permits for the work delayed the repairs, he said.

Ikram has owned the station for about 15 years and says maintenance and equipment issues arise from time to time.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture closed the 87 and 89 octane fuel pumps at the Shell gas station at 2402 Highland Ave. and initiated an investigation after the pumps were found to have water mixed with the gasoline on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

According to a department laboratory report, the testing was conducted at the station following customer complaints of engine trouble after filling up at the station. The report found 86.5 percent water and sediment in the 1 gallon samples taken from the station.

According to Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Allen Lampman the station's 87 and 89 octane fuel dispensers were shut down immediately while the station was allowed to continue to sell 91 octane as that grade of fuel was unaffected.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, repairs and maintenance was being conducted on the station's tanks. The work was expected to be completed that day, according to a station employee.

Further information could not be provided on this specific case as the issue is under active investigation.

Typically, when a station's fuel is found to be in violation the station is made to shut down and pump out the fuel. Second samples are taken after a new load of gasoline has been delivered to prove the violation has been corrected. If the second samples are good the station is permitted to reopen.

If, through the investigation, the department believes the violation was to the extent that a fine is in order the department can proceed with a Civil Administrative Fine action or turn the case over to the district attorney for prosecution.

Water in gas can hinder performance by plugging fuel filters and fuel injectors starving the engine of fuel causing it to stop running, Lampman shared. Should water get into the cylinders, the engine will start running rough, pinning and stall. Water left in the fuel system long term can cause rust and corrosion of the fuel tank, fuel lines and fuel injectors.

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