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Commissioner reassures consumers in areas affected by bad gasoline

October 13, 2011


For Immediate Release

Commerce Department monitoring situation closely, field investigators inspecting pumps in region

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce received notice Monday afternoon that 108 loads of gasoline with above-regulation concentrations of ethanol were distributed to more than 60 gas stations and coops over a four-hour period on Saturday, October 8. Commissioner Mike Rothman reassured Minnesota consumers today that the Commerce Department is closely monitoring the situation, and has been working with the distributor and gas station owners since Monday afternoon to swiftly address the problem.

“We are directing the full attention of our Weights and Measures Division to help resolve this situation and protect consumers from purchasing bad gasoline,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Our investigators are completing inspections of stations we suspect were affected by this situation, and working directly with the distributor and station owners to ensure that bad fuel is not being sold to consumers, and is being replaced immediately.”

Due to a technical malfunction at the Magellan Midstream Partners Petroleum plant in Mankato on Saturday, gas containing high levels of ethanol reached more than 60 stations and coops in 21 communities throughout southern Minnesota on Saturday, including Austin, Mankato, North Mankato, New Ulm, Redwood Falls, Sleepy Eye, Albert Lea, Renville, Owatonna, Olivia, Winnebago, LeSueur, Springfield, St. Peter, Belle Plaine, Blue Earth, Hector, Winthrop, Morgan, Gaylord, and Fairmont.

Magellan informed the Commerce Department that they are working to retrieve and replace bad gasoline distributed from its Mankato facility. The Department directed Magellan to provide a report detailing: 1) a specific account of what happened and which stations were involved; 2) what specifically was done to correct the problem; 3) a detailed plan to ensure this kind of problem will never happen again. Magellan has agreed to fulfill that request.

Weights and Measures staff is using bill of lading records to determine which stations in the area have been affected. This is a time consuming process due to the fact that some contaminated gasoline was sent to bulk plants and secondary distributors. Commerce investigators are completing field inspections to verify that identified stations did receive contaminated product, have removed the product from sale, and have replaced it with product that meets ASTM standards. Part of that inspection will include taking laboratory samples. One sample tested late Monday afternoon contained a 63 percent concentration of ethanol – well above the standard 10 percent maximum.

“Minnesota consumers should know that our department has been, and will continue to be, vigilant in addressing this problem,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Our investigators have been working since the situation was brought to our attention. Our field staff is identifying affected stations, ensuring bad gasoline is not being sold, and that it is being replaced as quickly as possible.”

Minnesota consumers with questions or concerns should contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Weights and Measures Division at (651) 215-5821. To find out more about the Weights and Measures Division, visit our new website at http://mn.gov/commerce/weights-and-measures/.