A potential gas station hazzard

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May 24, 2016
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#1
I was going to send this to shell corp but don’t really have a good contact and there isn’t one on here.

Thoughts on the matter welcomed!


Dear Shell

I am writing to you because I get gas for my vehicles at your stations more than any others and I recently saw something happen that needs to be addressed.

These days almost all gas pumps are protected by a large metal U shaped bollard on either end of pump areas.

The other day I saw someone open his door into one of those and while many of us have done that at least once in our gas station experience, this time I actually thought I saw a slight spark!

The last time I hit a door on one of those things I was frustrated at the fact I did not see it and was driving a vehicle with the gas cap on the drivers side, which was new to me. So I wasn’t used to this being something to watch out for and happen and I wished the metal U had rubber around it to save people’s doors.

Now I think we need to be preventative instead of reactive with these things.

For one, they are not always the same size nor in the same location from station to station or company to company. You also cannot always see them from inside large or high seating vehicles. It is easy to mis judge where to open your door and nit so easy to look down and see the thing when doing so. Finally, as careful as people may try to be, mistakes happen.

And if I did in fact see a spark from metal striking metal (he put a significant dent in his door and scratched the metal bollard and wasn’t too happy about it all), then couldn’t that spark cause greater problems?

Maybe you have heard of this phenomenon before but now it is time for you and all other companies to add safety rubber around those things to save not only car doors and the metal itself, or frustration people go through when having to spend money to repair their dents, but most importantly, the idea that sparks can cause gas pumps to explode.

I leave the decision to act promptly and wisely to you.

Thank you.
 
May 24, 2016
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#3
It is not just shell
And the other issue is these metal things are different at every station

I think we should all send the message to our local news
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
I am struggling to understand this? Is the concern that and spark from metal on metal friction may cause a refueling pump to explode?

The concern of static electricity and refueling has to do with built up static meeting gasoline vapours exiting the tank as the tank gets filled — and most of the concern is with people as the conduit of static, and the vapours escaping.

How would metal friction spark get near open gasoline fumes or gasoline itself?

I have no background in physics or material science so that may be why I am not understanding this.

Is the concern an explosion or just people scratching the car?

If the concern is about gasoline and sparks well it would be work to find a proper synthetic polymer or rubber to cover the metal. Many types of rubber absorb gasoline and that may be problematic in itself. And many types of rubber burn in a fire. And the metal posts are there to protect the gas pumps. Metal is the safest way to store gasoline and to be used as house gasoline and protect gasoline.

If the concern is people scratching their cars — well the hose is not that short, just keep a distance from the gas station island. If someone scratched their car they got too close to the gas pump island.
I am not seeing a great if any risk of explosion and fail to see how having a lot of rubber there would be helpful.
 
May 24, 2016
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#5
I saw what looked like a spark
There are vapors all around we cannot see
They say just using your cell phone near a pump can cause a spark too. I am not sure how overzealous to be but I figured a spark aint a good thing no matter how I figure it. The fact everyone happens to bang their door into one of those at least once also doesnt help. Sure, the next time you may park further away etc but it will have happened once already. So why take any chances? Save explosions, save door dings, save pretty metal pipes: add rubber now as a preventative measure instead of reacting to a more costly problem some day later on
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
The cell phone issue is in case a battery explodes in the phone like those samsung notes that were banned on planes and later recalled.

I think there is a desire to have as little rubber as possible (hose is a necessity) because if there is an explosion it is problematic to have burning and melting rubber which releases toxic chemicals and is harder to extinguish - there is a reason that burning tires is banned.

The static electricity is an issue but that has happened during the fueling process and right near the nozzle — which is why one should not start fueling, get back in car, and then go back to pump when the car is filled. The vapors are concentrated around the tank. When a person starts the fueling process by inserting payment method, choosing type of fuel, etc before opening their gas tank they discharge any static.

If there were strong enough vapours all around there would be fires even before the fueling process starts.

I am failing to see how from my admittedly limited scientific point of view a spark from metal friction would happen close enough to where the fueling nozzle is inserted in a gas tank.

As for people scratching their car doors —— well maybe that will be a wake up call for them to be aware of their blind spots, be more cautious when pulling up, and alter their driving habits accordingly before they harm a person or another person’s car or property.
 
May 24, 2016
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#7
I dont know from a scientific standpoint
I just didn’t like seeing what looked like a spark near gas vapors

As for people who hit the things, many have done it once
Why not mitigate the damage.

Doesn’t have to be rubber but something around those things cant hurt anyway

I have seen it, looked and still almost hit one
But if I did I would know it was my fault not anyone else’s

But still, if they coated em with something then that would never happen and there’d be no spark

Is there a resistance to adding a safety coating?
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#9
I think you're worrying about nothing. Only a spark near the gas tank while refueling would be a concern. Your door is pretty far away from where vapors would be present.

Newer cars have largely done away with this problem anyway. Onboard vapor recovery systems have been mandatory on cars since 2000. There hasn't been a single report of a fire caused by static discharge in the past 8 years.

And there has never been a documented case of a refueling fire caused by a cell phone.
 
May 24, 2016
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#10
I’m just reporting what i saw and where I saw it. If it is a potential hazard then even though the issue can happen at other stations and not just shell then at least maybe they could spear head it. I cant spend a ton of time on it other than to try to find easily emailable contacts for it
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
What is a safety coating? Foam rubber? Some are highly flammable. Rubber? Toxic when burning.

Those metal poles are to protect the pump from careless drivers. Metal is the safest. What coating would not be more of a fire concern? In weighing the concerns of the safety of the pump, versus someone getting scratches on the door, well the pump wins.

A horrible arsonist set fire to a gas station in a different part of the city where I live, so I understand that gas station fires are terrible.

But this is not just a straight up easy answer as there are all sorts of concerns. Honestly a material scientist/ engineer and physicist would need to weigh in. So do not be surprised if there is a polite response that says very little.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#12
Well I gave you the contacts above. Let us know how you make out and what Shell says. They would bebthe experts to tell you if it’s something to be concerned with.

This isn’t really a consumer problem we can assist with.
 
May 24, 2016
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#13
We could just blow it all off
The first response provided shell cs—neil provided it. I was hoping for someone higher up (we have that in company contacts for other businesses just not shell) but that will do and I will fire off the email (fire lol no pun intended) and let shell suss it out

As I have thought about all this, however, I have no just realized how many people I have seen ding their doors at pumps with these things. I am sure many of them are otherwise careful drivers but the metal thing appears to be one of those things that really invites and promotes mistakes. It’s like watching people trip on a bad step at a stadium that everyone who knows the place
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Unless one can provide a valid safety concern based on science it is likely that any such letter will be taken seriously. I am not sure from a financial standpoint a business is going to start examining ways to protect careless drivers from causing scratches to their door if there is no legitimate risk to the business. A driver can mitigate those risks on their own — do not get too close, look out the window etc, open door carefully and slowly.

When I drive an unfamiliar car in a new place (ie renting) I have often gotten out of the car to assess space and distance because I do not know the blind spots.

Think about this when writing the letter as it may help make the letter more effective.
 
May 24, 2016
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#15
Yes thanks I will
I saw what I saw but then thought of the dinging
To me that seems to be what happens more but nobody has sympathy for the driver

Even if careful we all have made similar errors but yes, it will come down to how I write it

As you can see my original mock up for a potential letter was about the spark thing but mentions the door ding issue

Anyone care to take a stab at posting an enhanced version of what i wtote? I will send the beat one

I do sympathize with door dingers so that has to be in there
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
I would never discourage a person from writing in with their concerns. One good thing about having input is that a letter writer can get feedback on how the company may react and one can strengthen their position so that the letter is more effective.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Feb 16, 2018
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#17
I think adding in door dings as a concern it waters down any argument you have about possible fire hazzard. The protective barriers are here before a person pulls the car in, its hard to see how anyone can feel that any gas company or store could be responsible for neglect on the part of the driver of the car.