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VALLEY FOCUS | Panorama City

Owner Faces Charges for Diesel Irregularity

July 01, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

The Los Angeles city attorney's office has filed criminal charges against a Canoga Park man for allegedly selling diesel fuel with a dangerously low ignition temperature.

Fariborz Hariri, 42, who owns Panorama Texaco at 13606 Roscoe Blvd. in Panorama City, was charged Monday with selling diesel fuel that fails to conform with state regulations. The offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charge against Hariri stems from an April 9 undercover purchase of diesel fuel No. 2 by an investigator with the California Division of Measurement Standards, according to Deputy City Atty. Don Cocek, who is handling the case.

The fuel Hariri was selling allegedly had a so-called flash point of only about 51 degrees. State law requires that diesel No. 2 have a minimum flash point of about 125 degrees.

The flash point indicates the temperature at which a particular fuel's vapor will ignite, said Jeff Thuner, program supervisor for the Division of Measurement Standards. The temperature at which a fuel in liquid form will catch fire, known as the ignition temperature, is usually higher. The listing for diesel No. 2 in Texaco's Material Safety Data Sheet shows a flash point of 125 degrees, and a standard ignition temperature of 500 degrees.

"In liquid form, you could actually put a cigarette out in it," said Mark McWhirter of the Van Nuys-based McWhirter Distributing Co., a distributor of diesel fuel and other petroleum products. "It sounds like they had a 50/50 mix with regular fuel."

The flash point of typical unleaded automotive gasoline is around minus 45 degrees, McWhirter said. When automotive gas is mixed with diesel, the concoction's flash point and ignition point can be lowered substantially.

"Not only does diesel fuel with a low flash point tend to cause engine knock, but a more serious potential problem caused by a low flash point is that the fuel becomes unsafe to handle and store," City Atty. James K. Hahn said.

Hariri could not be reached for comment Tuesday. His arraignment is scheduled for July 14 in Van Nuys Municipal Court.

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