UPDATE: Trucking company takes responsibility for diesel fuel mix-up
MANCHESTER — A family-owned fuel-trucking company in North Hampton is taking responsibility for the repairs of cars damaged when drivers put the wrong fuel into their gas tanks at a Manchester convenience store on Sunday.
Abenaqui Carriers posted a note on its website that tells customers of the Manchester Mart at 738 Hooksett Road what to do if their car was contaminated by gas or diesel purchased at the station after 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We apologize for this inconvenience and we hope to resolve it as soon as possible,” the notice concludes.
During a Sunday afternoon delivery, diesel was apparently placed in the storage tank for regular gasoline, and gasoline was placed in the diesel tank, said Taif Nouri, manager of Manchester Mart and Gas. Nouri said he’s heard from about 20 customers so far and referred them to Abenaqui.
“They (Abenaqui) are working on accommodating each customer,” said Nouri, whose store is an unbranded Cumberland Farms operation. “Cumberland Farms is not the one who made the mistake. It’s Abenaqui.”
Nouri said his location resumed selling fuel as of this morning. Overnight, a cleaning company flushed out the storage and pumping equipment and replaced filters.
Nouri said none of his customers was angry.
“They were cooperative. They understand what happened; it was a mistake,” he said.
On its website, Abenaqui asks Manchester Mart customers to fax the company the receipt of their fuel purchase. It said the automobile owners can make a claim through Abenaqui’s insurance carrier, Great West Casualty Co., of file a claim with the owner’s insurer, and have that company contact Great West.
Or, a customer can wait for Abenaqui to contact them.
The telephone number for Great West is 800-228-8602, and the claim number is H06245.
Previous story follows:
MANCHESTER — Motorists who filled up recently at a North End convenience store ended up with a tank full of diesel fuel, according to a customer and others who spent the day either towing cars or figuring out what was wrong with them.
Repairs could end up costing car owners hundreds, if not thousands, said Steve Blodgett, a tow-truck driver with Precision Towing. Blodgett said he brought eight diesel-contaminated cars to mechanics on Monday. One was a brand new 2014 Subaru Outback.
Signs on pumps at the Manchester Mart gasoline pumps on Monday said no fuel was available. The store was open, though the manager said the company was still trying to determine what happened.
"We think diesel was delivered in Super (gasoline) and Super in diesel," said Rick Fernald, who said he works for Gulf. Fernald said Manchester Mart is an unbranded site owned by Cumberland Farms.
Cumberland Farms is in a strategic amalgamation with Gulf Oil, according to the cumberlandandgulf.com website.
One customer who spoke to management said they pledged to reimburse any repair bills. Catherine Whittle said she drove home after filling her 2003 Honda CRV on Sunday night.
But on Monday morning, it was moving sluggishly, with heavy white and blue smoke coming from the tailpipe.
AAA towed it to a local mechanic, who said the problem appeared serious. She had it towed to another mechanic in Massachusetts.
"It had 174,000 miles on it," Whittle said. "It made it through this brutally cold winter and now it died."
Billy Roberts, a mechanic at Henry's Sunoco, said he looked at one car that had diesel in the tank. He said the car's engine and fuel system will have to be cleaned out. The fuel tank has to be removed; that can be expensive, depending on the car model, he said.
Roberts also said Manchester Mart will have to clean its fuel storage tanks, gas pumps and filters.
"It's going to be an expensive fix," he said.
On Monday, technicians for the petroleum installation company Gaftek were working at the facility. Meanwhile, Whittle said she wants more than just her repair bill paid.
"I filled up a tank of gas last night," she said. "I'd like to be reimbursed for that as well."