LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — With record gas prices, the 8 News Now I-Team set out to test fuel quality across the Las Vegas Valley – and we have good news.
The I-Team sampled gas from 12 stations across the valley. I-Team reporter David Charns and photojournalist Matt Adams collected a tiny amount of mid-grade gasoline from each station and then transferred the samples to smaller containers.
The I-Team worked with two labs, which sent sealed containers that could be shipped for testing.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the Las Vegas valley on Tuesday was $4.82, down from a high of $5.61 set in June, according to AAA.
One lab that tested the samples is Blackstone Laboratories based in Indiana.
“It’s primarily designed to test things like water contamination or dirt contamination,” Blackstone’s president, Ryan Stack, said about the process. Each sample came back with findings, including alcohol and water content.
“Are most of the samples you guys test good gas?” Charns asked Stark.
“Usually, the stuff coming out of the pump is pretty good,” he said.
That is what the I-Team found. Each of the 12 gas stations passed with the laboratories finding no issues with water, sediment, or other deficiencies:
- 76: Patrick & Rainbow
- 76: Sahara & Ft. Apache
- Arco: Fremont & Eastern
- Chevron: Charleston & Rancho
- Chevron: Westcliff & Rainbow
- Funny’s: Gowan & Rancho
- Rebel: Flamingo & Paradise
- Shell: Charleston & Buffalo
- Shell: Twain & Ft. Apache
- Sinclair: Near Cheyenne & Losee
- Sinclair: Warm Springs & Gilespie
- Smith’s: Windmill & Eastern
“We’re in a dry environment, so to have water intrusion is very unlikely,” David Crawford, president of Green Valley Grocery, one of the valley’s largest fuel companies, said. The I-Team tested two of Crawford’s locations – one at Charleston & Buffalo and a second at Twain & Ft. Apache.
“If you had water contamination, you’re going to have broken down vehicles and you can’t have that,” Crawford said, noting how difficult it would be for water to get into the tanks and mix with the gasoline his company provides.
In addition to safeguards taken when the fuel is put into the underground tank, each tank itself is double-lined. That prevents both fuel from leaking into the ground and from water getting into the large tank, he said. The water and fuel will also naturally separate, with the water settling on the bottom of the tank.
“And then the space in between the two tanks has monitoring on it,” Crawford said. “If there is any liquid of anykind, whether it be water or fuel, it will set off an alarm.”
Inside his store, Crawford showed the I-Team a piece of equipment monitoring the amount of water and other deficiencies in the tanks outside.
“Anytime that number is anything besides zero, this tank’s going to set off an alarm,” he said. When the alarm sounds, it not only stops the pump but alerts company leaders.
But there are even more safeguards. Filters in each pump will swell if they detect water, effectively shutting off the pump before that contaminated gas would hit your car’s tank.
The fuel coming into the valley is transported on two large pipelines: one from California and a second from Utah. Most of the gas sold at stations across the valley comes from these lines, Crawford said.
It is at the pipeline site where each gas company will add its special sauce – the additives you see advertised that make each company’s formula unique.
When state inspectors from the Department of Agriculture look for water, they perform a visual inspection, following standard industry guidelines.
“Water and sediment in fuel is one of our program’s most frequent consumer complaint,” a statement on their website said. “ASTM requires gasoline to be visually free of undissolved water, sediment, and suspended matter: it shall be clear and bright at ambient temperatures or 70°, whichever is higher.”
Most contamination issues, especially when it comes to water or other engine-killing compounds, happen after gasoline is already in the tank and post-transaction.
“It can happen, but most of the time it’s in good shape,” Stark said about finding gasoline with water in it, adding the samples he sees with problems usually come from mechanics or dealers trying to figure out why a car is not functioning properly. “The samples we see are kind of outliers because they’re looking for problems and sometimes there are problems in there.”
In addition, paying for premium gas, but getting a lower octane, is rare, because the pipeline will only send one type of fuel out at a time.
Thursday on 8 News Now: See how the state checks the quality of gasoline and other mechanisms at stations across the valley.