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Bad fuel in police cars costs West Palm Beach $1.1 million

Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 10, 2018

It started with a few West Palm Beach police cars with engine failure in April. 

Now, six months later, 87 police cars had to have their engines replaced, costing the city $1.1 million. 

City Administrator Jeff Green said an outside group came in to investigate the cause and found that the gas was tainted with biodiesel fuel, causing the engines to fail. 

Miami-Dade County went through the same issues, reporting 217 cars with engine damage or failure. 

"Given the fact we've had another agency that had similar problems we've kind of ruled out sabotage or anything like that,” Green said. “That kind of leaves us with somewhere in the fuel delivery chain, either at the port or when it was delivered, there was some kind of mix-up. That's what we're trying to pin down."

West Palm Beach is now trying to get that money back from their insurance company. 

“We have to prove a negative,” Green said. “We can show you that the engines have been damaged, we can tell you that they’ve all been fueled in one spot, but insurance companies are notorious for saying ‘well, prove that it was us.' ” 

The two cities use different fuel suppliers, which means they’re looking further down the fuel supply chain for the origin of the contaminated fuel batch. 

Green said the police cars are back on the road. 

Some of the cars were new and had under 800 miles on them. Others were a few years old. 
The one positive takeaway from the situation, Green said now a good portion of the police fleet has brand new engines. 

Whether the city will get reimbursed for the engines is still unclear. The $1.1 million came out of the self-insurance reserve of the city which is designed for unexpected events. 

Green hopes the city will see their funds replenished soon.