Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

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December 28, 2013

Ag Department, police investigate bad fuel complaints

Cordele — CORDELE — A Georgia Department of Agriculture employee made a Friday afternoon appearance at a local convenience food store after at least five motorists complained of pumping impure fuel into their vehicles.

Agency spokesman Doug Killingsworth said Justin Malott, an employee of the fuel and measures division, had been sent to S&S Food Mart at 1702 Seventh St. S.

Malott not only talked to store employees about the complaints but also took fuel samples to determine if the complaints made against the store were indeed legitimate.

After confirming the gas was “bad,” Malott bagged and tied down the pumps to prevent future sales until the problem is corrected. He also suggested   that all of the fuel in the pumps be removed and replaced as opposed to a treatment option.

Meanwhile, a check with the Cordele Police Department disclosed that the owners of five vehicles complained on either Thursday or Friday their vehicles immediately developed mechanical problems after they purchased fuel at the station.

Officer Winston Haynes said he had strongly recommended to store employees at that time that the pumps be bagged and no more fuel be sold until the issue was resolved.

One store customer who identified himself as a Vienna resident said his 1991 Ford F150 “was running perfectly” until he purchased gas at the business in question.

When he attempted to leave the store, he said his vehicle immediately stopped running. He indicated he was going to have his truck towed and repaired.

He said two other drivers reported similar problems with their vehicles that, he said, managed to travel a short distance away from the store before stopping. He said he and the others had been asked to leave the area as their presence was discouraging other potential customers.

Killingsworth and Malott said the store would be liable for any repair costs incurred by customers who had complained about gas purchases there. Malott added that it is not likely that store owners tampered with the fuel and that the pumps are leased. He said the problem likely generated from the truck delivering the fuel or another source. Further testing will be needed to determine the source of contamination. Malott said those results should be available early this week.

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