AAFES working on compensation for tainted fuel at bases
RAF MILDENHALL, England — AAFES said it’s working to secure a lump-sum compensation payment for motorists affected by the tainted fuel pumped from two Air Force installations earlier this year.
Approximately six weeks after Harvest Energy supplied its filling stations on RAFs Mildenhall and Alconbury with silicone-tainted fuel, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said it was in almost daily communication with Harvest to arrange a quick resolution, according to spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Konop.
“We have collected around 75 claims at this time and are working to get a lump sum payment to pay out the claims,” Konop wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “This hopefully is in the best interest of our customers.”
That information differs from what the military told motorists several weeks ago when an RAF Mildenhall legal office representative said the Air Force was simply collecting the claims for Harvest Energy, which would investigate and ultimately approve or deny the claim.
Harvest Energy did not return multiple queries from Stars and Stripes on Tuesday.
An independent testing company confirmed that Harvest Energy supplied the silicone-tainted gas to filling stations on both RAFs Mildenhall and Alconbury sometime between late February and early March. It also supplied tainted fuel to the Morrisons grocery store chain as well as Asda, the British arm of Wal-Mart.
A British investigating firm traced the tainted fuel to an Essex depot that supplies fuel to Harvest Energy and a second fuel company.
Despite the lack of evidence of silicone in the fuel at the RAF Lakenheath filling station, an unknown number of motorists have filed claims with the 48th Judge Advocate General’s office, according to an RAF Lakenheath spokeswoman.
The silicone adversely affects oxygen sensors in some makes and models and can lead to complete engine shutdown, according to John Pidgeon, an RAF Mildenhall auto hobby shop manager. Repairs can run between $300 and $1,000.
The latest compensation effort, meanwhile, differs from the method used in 2005 when an unknown number of American military personnel sought compensation from Harvest Energy after the energy firm filled unleaded tanks at RAF Mildenhall with diesel fuel, causing damage to vehicles.
During that round of filing, claimants dealt directly with Harvest Energy.
AAFES has refused to answer questions relating to the 2005 incident, including how much diesel was inadvertently supplied at RAF Mildenhall, how many motorists filed compensation claims, how long it took for the claims to be adjudicated or if AAFES conducted an investigation following the incident.
It also won’t say how many other tainted-fuel incidents have occurred at AAFES’ filling stations worldwide in the past three years.