Gasoline spills across asphalt when car left unattended while refueling

Washington City Fire Department responds to Maverick on Hoodoo Way for a fuel leak, Jan. 12, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Julio Reyes, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Firefighters responded to Maverick in Washington City to clean up a fuel spill that occurred when a customer ran into the store while refueling his vehicle Friday morning.

Shortly before 8 a.m., firefighters responded to a fuel spill at Maverick located at 980 Hoodoo Way in Washington City after a store employee called emergency dispatch requesting help.

Fire department personnel located the spill and began scattering absorbent material, similar to kitty litter, on top of the fuel that had spread over a wide area of asphalt surrounding the fuel pump, Washington City Fire Department spokesman Julio Reyes said.

The bio-degradable material absorbs the liquid, which turns into dust as it dries and then dissipates into the air, he said.

Reyes added that in Friday’s incident a significant amount of the absorbent material was needed to clean up the fuel spill, compared to what would be required to remove leaking fluids after a car crash, for example, so the crew returned a few hours later to remove any remaining material from the area.

The incident began when a customer, who began filling his tank with fuel while he ran into the store to purchase other items, returned to his car to discover gasoline spilling onto the ground from the nozzle still connected to his vehicle.

“For whatever reason, the overfill sensor didn’t register the volume in the car and it continued dispensing fuel,” Reyes said.

The man stopped the flow of fuel and returned to the store to alert the cashier, who then determined that the volume of fuel spilled exceeded the amount they are capable of removing on their own, Reyes said, so the employee called for help.

The inside of the store was also inspected by firefighters for any gasoline that could have been tracked onto the floor, and finding none they cleared the scene. The initial cleanup took less than 15 minutes and the pump area was reopened for service.

“It was contained to the asphalt and did not come into contact with any drains, soil or vegetation, which is an environmental concern,” Reyes said.

He also said the incident is a good reminder to follow the safety tips posted around the fuel pumps, and despite the automatic shut-off function of the gas pump nozzle, to remain with the vehicle during refueling.

The automatic shut-off  uses a mechanical process, and as the gasoline flows through the nozzle, it passes through a venturi, which is a tube with a narrow opening that changes the speed and pressure of the liquid passing through, creating a vacuum. A small tube is located just above the spout, which sucks up the air being replaced by the fuel, and once the fuel in the tank is high enough to block the hole, pressure builds until it triggers a lever that flips the nozzle off.

No injuries or damage were reported.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • old school January 12, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    A bio-degradable material that absorbs the liquid, turns into dust as it dries and then dissipates into the air? Hello VAPOORIZE!!!

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