Contact 5 Investigation leads to new proposed consumer legislation

It would require an annual gas station inspection

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Contact 5 Investigators have been working for you over the past few months, protecting you at the pump.

Their investigation into bad gasoline led to state inspectors shutting down some of the pumps at two stations in Palm Beach County.

Now some state lawmakers are taking action to help protect consumers after watching the investigation.

When filing up at the pump you have no choice but to trust you're buying good gasoline.  After our initial investigation aired, the Contact 5 Investigators have received call after call from consumers claiming bad gasoline has cost them thousands of dollars in repairs.

A local mechanic says a little bit of sediment or water in your gasoline can cause a lot of damage.

"It seems that for our area it has increased compared to the same time last year," said Jordan Camarena, a shop foreman with Mercedes-Benz of North Palm Beach.

Our investigation also revealed state inspectors haven't checked the gas quality at some stations in more than a year.  And there's no state law requiring a yearly inspection.

"There isn't?  That is a bit surprising," said Camarena as he reacted to our findings.

Representative Joseph Abruzzo of Wellington says he's now hoping to change that.

"What you've done at NewsChannel 5 is uncover what many of the distressed motorists are going through," said Representative Abruzzo.

"We need to make sure there are laws on the books that mandate the safety of gasoline," he said.  "You've done the investigation, we know it's a problem, so let's get to work and try to fix it," said Representative Abruzzo.

He's drafting legislation right now that would require an annual inspection, stricter fines and consequences for repeat offenders.

Right now, the state only has 50 workers that inspect gas stations.  That's not just for South Florida, but for all 9,000 gas stations across the state.  And most stations have multiple pumps and types of gas to inspect.

"That's not enough to go to every single gas station and look at every single gas tank," said Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda who sits on the State's House Agriculture Committee.

Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda said she'd support efforts to ensure an annual inspection at all stations, only if the state can pay for it.

"What we've been hearing is cut, cut, cut budgets which means cut, cut, cut state employees which means cut the inspectors to these gas stations," she said.

Drivers whose cars were affected by bad gasoline said the pump is one place the state should not be looking at to cut down on costs.

The Department of Agriculture says it will work with lawmakers in the House and Senate on any proposed legislation in the new session.

Meanwhile, we're still trying to get to the bottom of exactly how bad gasoline is getting to the pump.  We'll let you know what we find out.

To watch the original investigation, click here .

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