Gas pump clips to be removed by Friday

October 14, 2010 6:44:31 PM PDT
A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Thursday rejected a request by the California Independent Oil Marketers Association for a temporary restraining order against a state fire marshal's mandate ordering thousands of gas stations in the state to remove "hold open latches" on gas nozzles manufactured by Ohio-based Vapor Systems Technologies, Inc.

The deadline imposed by the State for removing the nozzle clips is Friday.

The order affects about 3,000 gas stations, or about one-third of the total in California.

Tom Robinson, president of the Rotten Robbie gas station chain, told ABC7 the gas stations had asked for 90 days more to look for a solution or another vendor.

They say just as dangerous, drivers will start using quarters and other things in place of the latches.

"People will jam it in, in which case the person who jammed it could have a spray or spill incident," Robinson said.

Gas station owners are also concerned that they will customers if they have to get rid of the clips.

"If the customer has already left us, how do we ask them to come back?" Robinson asked.

The state fire marshal called the nozzles a potential hazard to public health after 13 gas spraying incidents were reported.

"They would go to grab the nozzle to put it in their vehicle and gasoline would freely spray," state fire marshal spokesperson Daniel Berlant said.

The agency says the nozzle malfunction could unexpectedly spray gasoline before a nozzle is inserted into a vehicle's gas tank. By removing the hold open latch, a driver could stop the unexpected gasoline flow by yanking on the manual lever whereas the hold open latch would make it harder to stop the spray. Fire officials also believe a spring attached to the latch may somehow trigger an unintended gasoline flow.

The order applies only to nozzles made by VST. There are two other California certified manufacturers of gas nozzles.

The first bulletin by the state fire marshal's office came in June, alerting gas stations that damaged VSP nozzles were spraying gasoline.

The mandatory order was issued in August.

VSP told ABC7 it is ramping up production of a new nozzle with a secondary release mechanism.

The state can fine gas station owners or shut down gas stations that do not comply to the order but the state fire marshal's office said they would rather work with gas station owners.


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