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Frigid Weather Turning Diesel Fuel to Sludge

Diesel Fuel is turning into sludge across the region.
It was a stressful Monday at Valley Transit, as frigid temperatures turned diesel into sludge.

        "We did not have enough additive in our diesel fuel," said Assistant GM Sal LaPuma. "And then the buses started gelling."

LaPuma had to pull six busses off the road as filters began clogging up, and across the region the issue was evident. David Beamer is a truck driver based out of Canada, so when he saw the forecast, he made sure his truck was prepared.

        "When it gets down close to zero, put the fuel conditioner in," says Beamer. "Three, four ounces in each tank and you're good to go."

Others weren't so ready, as State Patrol responded to 15 stalled semis on Monday, and a handful more Tuesday morning.

        "Either they weren't prepared, or they purchased fuel in areas that weren't previously treated fuel," said Sgt. Mark Abrahamson.

Abrahamson says some of those drivers were coming from the south.

        "If they planned to stay in the southern states and they use fuel that wasn't treated and come up here, they find themselves in that situation," he says.

At Valley Transit, a new kind of diesel was to blame. Despite having nearly a third of its fleet impacted, transit officials say they were able to avoid route delays thanks in part to schools being closed.

        "We had those additional drivers and additional busses that we could send out to replace the ones that had to come in," said LaPuma.

Truckers who stalled had to call for a tow and for a repair, an expensive fix for something Beamer says can be prevented.

        "That could cost up to 100 dollars. They've got to get the fuel filter off, put a new one on, put fuel conditioner on, and it takes time."

Temperatures are expected to climb tomorrow, but State Patrol is asking drivers to be on the lookout for stalled semis.

        "If their engines stop, they're no longer getting heat into those vehicles, and it can become a very serious situation," says Abrahamson.
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