Warn of possible contaminated gasoline in Florida

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Florida authorities have warned drivers about possible fuel contamination at dozens of gas stations on the Gulf Coast as residents brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Idalia in the coming days.

On Monday, Idalia was near the coast of Cuba and on track to make landfall as a hurricane in the southern United States this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported late Sunday that gasoline purchased after 10 a.m. Saturday at some Citgo-supplied stations had a high probability of being contaminated with diesel. Citgo identified 29 affected stations, sold at chains including 7-Eleven, BJ's Wholesale and other convenience stores, in cities including Tampa, Fort Myers, Sarasota and more.

The contamination was caused by "human error," the department explained. In a statement on Sunday, Houston-based Citgo cited a product routing problem at its Tampa terminal.

Citgo has notified those locations with potentially contaminated fuel and asked them to stop sales. The company is working to remove the contaminated fuel from all places that may have it, the company added.

Contaminated fuel can damage vehicle engines or cause them to malfunction, state officials said. That's an even bigger concern should there be many residents potentially evacuating as Idalia approaches.

The contamination of the Port of Tampa is "occurring right on the eve of the storm," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at Sunday's news conference. "If (consumers) fill up at any of these stations, they probably shouldn't use their car, because people could be stranded on the roads."

Forecasters expect Idalia to become a hurricane Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico and then turn northeast toward the Florida Gulf Coast. Idalia could approach Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday with winds of more than 111 miles (179 kph), the National Weather Service said, making it a Category 3 hurricane.

Consumers who believe they may have purchased contaminated gasoline at affected locations are urged to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to file a complaint. They can also initiate a claim through Citgo's Good Gas Guarantee program.

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