Florida Gas Stations Hit With Potential Fuel Contamination as Hurricane Idalia Nears

CITGO identified 29 stations that may have been affected.

TAMPA, Fla. — As Tropical Storm Idalia nears landfall later this week, residents and drivers in Florida face potential fuel contamination at dozens of gas stations on the Gulf Coast.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) sent out an alert that gasoline purchased after 10 a.m. on Aug. 26 at some CITGO-supplied stations had a strong likelihood of being contaminated with diesel fuel, the Associated Press reported.

CITGO identified 29 stations — including chains such as 7-Eleven Inc., among other convenience stores, and BJ's Wholesale — that may have been affected. To view the updated list, click here.

Houston-based CITGO cited "human error" and a product routing issue at its Tampa terminal for cause of the contamination. The fuel producer notified locations with potentially contaminated fuel and asked them to halt sales. Once stations are cleared or have completed a corrective action plan, fuel will once again be safe for purchase, CITGO stated.

[Read more: Go Mart Chain Taps Warren Rogers for Fuel Management]

The announcement was made soon after Tropical Storm Idalia formed. The storm is expected to become a hurricane later this week and threaten the west coast of Florida, where the contaminated fuel was distributed, according to Tampa Bay Times.

The issue was raised at a news conference Gov. Ron DeSantis held on Aug. 27 to talk about storm preparation. He acknowledged the fuel situation may complicate matters since contaminated gasoline and diesel have the potential of causing engine damage or affecting operability.

The Port of Tampa contamination is "happening right of the eve of the storm," DeSantis said. "If [consumers] filled up at any one of these stations, they probably don't want to drive their car — because you're going to have people potentially just stuck on the side of the road."

Forecasters said they expected Idalia to become a hurricane on Aug. 29 in the Gulf of Mexico, then curve northeast toward Florida's Gulf Coast on Aug. 29 to 30, with winds of more than 111 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said. This would characterize Idalia as a Category 3 hurricane.

In addition to flood and power outage warnings, Florida emergency officials urged residents to keep their gas tanks at least half-full in case they need to evacuate. "This will ensure you can evacuate tens of miles inland to a safe location should the need arise," the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) said on social media.

[Read more: Plugged In]

Consumers who believe they may have bought contaminated gas at impacted locations are urged to contact FDACS to file a complaint. They can also initiate a claim through CITGO's Good Gas Guarantee program.

The state also is "coordinating with petroleum retailers, ports and all additional stakeholders to ensure that this disruption won't be widespread and that residents can have seamless access to fuel," officials said.

FDEM also has "waived size, weight and hour restrictions to get resources into the state as quickly and efficiently as possible."