Wednesday, May 22, 2019


I saw a picture of this car and trailer last week on the blog of Wirecutter or possibly Timewaster and on Sunday driving home from Columbus, we passed it. He was coming out of the south as were we. It's not the sort of thing one expects to see in Ohio.

He had a passenger in the front seat
It was an interesting trip. We were getting gas in Westerville and I noticed that the automatic cutoff that is supposed to stop the gasoline pump when the tank is full had failed on the SUV in the next lane over. The driver was nowhere in sight so I went over and pulled the handle out and shut it off.

If you've never seen that kind of disaster, the gas doesn't trickle out and down the side of the car. No. It bursts out, about a foot in the air at whatever the pump is rated at (15 gallons/minute?) and the car was in a gasoline puddle about an inch deep. I got it on my hands and it over topped my sandals so they're covered with gas and my hand and arm are too so naturally this is one of those stations that doesn't have any kind of cleanser on the pump islands and none of the windshield washing stations had any water in them. That sucked. Off to the hotel to get cleaned up.

The driver came out of the snack shop with snacks and looked at the mess and I told him what I saw and did and he said, "well that's gonna cost me". I saw him move the car out of the puddle and then start wiping it down with paper towels as we left.

It wasn't until we got back to the hotel that it occurred to me that if this had happened anywhere in California it would have been treated as a first class hazmat disaster. I don't think anybody bothered to notify the authorities. After all, in California I'm sure the State would have fined the gas station owners $100,000 and made them pay all the expenses for "the cleanup" of the situation. I doubt the great state of Ohio is any different.

I just thought it was strange. I didn't think the automatic cut-offs on those pumps could fail. I'm never leaving my car gassing up while I head into the shop thinking the pump will shut down by itself, but then, I never do. I used to refuel a ship every 3 days by hand and we took no chances or risks. That at least is still a habit I've retained.

Me? I haven't called the Forces of Order for over 20 years and I don't intend to ever call them again.


Anonymous said...

Had a nephew that worked on a cleanup for a small hazardous waste spill in a river. The feds in charge had the river diverted around the area, and they were issued brooms to sweep the river bed.

capt fast said...

in my youth, used to fuel warning stars/L1049H's with 115/145 avgas. never used the nozzle hold-open device. over the wing, no SPR system. usually 7500 gallons at a crack. good for about 18 hours in a pinch. two inch nozzle with fifty pounds of pressure behind it. had to really lean into it. saw a hose end let loose in goose bay labrador once. Impressive flow. everyone ran as far upwind as they could.
I do not even use the hold open when servicing my car or truck. just doesn't feel right to do that. keeping a hand on the nozzle valve keeps you grounded also. noticed how often there is a fire at a gas station. I am always seeing someone smoking, talking on the phones, leaving the engine running, RVs with the gas fridge still on-uses a open flame. so it's really not too surprising when someone goes up in smoke and flame.
avoid stations just off the highway. cat converters are still hot. wonder why people don't think of these things?

Anne Bonney said...

"He had a passenger in the front seat." And in the caboose, apparently.