Auditor: State needs fuel testing standards after another bad gas buy in Butler County

The latest area case of water-tainted gas affecting drivers caused the Butler County auditor to again call for fuel testing standards in Ohio.

Multiple drivers reported issues on Wednesday. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds said excessive rain can cause problems and lead to stranded drivers.

“When we get periods of sustained rain, our office starts hearing complaints about water in the tanks,” Reynolds said. “I don’t have the authority to shut a station down for poor fuel, so stations continue to sell bad gas and Ohio consumers end up paying the price for engine repairs.”

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Reynolds said his goal is get “permissive” legislation passed so his office can test fuel quality when workers are already out checking fuel quantity.

He estimated it would only cost his office about $10,000 to $15,000 to purchase a testing device.

“I don’t need additional funding, I can do it with the money I already have in my budget,” Reynolds said. “Why not give us the opportunity to do it?”

Andrew Carpenter, a self-employed carpenter from Springboro, was one of the drivers who stopped to gas up his truck at the Madison Food Mart Shell station at 2289 Middletown Eaton Road on Wednesday.

“When I left, halfway down the road I hadn’t even gone a half of a mile, my truck started spittin’ and sputtering, it was about to die,” he said. “I had to floor my truck all the way, and it’s a fuel injected ‘06 Chevy, and I’ve never had no problems with it.”

He said he lost a day’s work dealing with the issue and ended up with a $505 bill, plus the $50 tow charge, for $9 worth of watered down gas. He said he is now dealing with the gas station owner’s insurance company.

“I just lost all day’s work over 9 bucks in water,” he said.

Reynolds said four drivers pumped water-tainted fuel into their tanks, including a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, who didn’t even make it to the road before the vehicle broke down.

According to photos provided by the auditor’s office, one of the caps used by the station was not water tight, which allowed water to get in.

“How many more vehicles are we going to see damaged because of no action on fuel quality testing in this state?” Reynolds said. “If the (Ohio Department of Agriculture) is not going to do the job, give local county auditors the authority to test and we’ll reduce the number of vehicles damaged.”

Reynolds has been working on legislation that would grant county auditors the authority to test motor fuel for octane, water and sediment, he said.

“I’ve spoken to several new state representatives and all have expressed interest in addressing real fuel quality testing. I don’t know how a single state representative can support a proposed gas tax increase without an accompanying measure that provides assurances on fuel quality for Ohio’s gas consumers,” Reynolds said. “I’m hopeful new legislation will be introduced soon.”

Reynolds tried to marshal support from the legislature last year, and while some, including State Rep. George Lang, said they were interested in helping, the effort stalled. Lang could not be reached for comment.

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