PETROL stations across Eastbourne have seen queues and been left dry as the town’s motorists were panic buying ahead of the planned tanker drivers strike.
People were waiting for 20 minutes to fill up their cars at the United petrol station next to the Trinity Place car park yesterday (Thursday). The garage had run out of diesel and petrol by 8pm on Wednesday but when their daily delivery arrived at 7.30am on Thursday motorists were quickly at the pump to top-up their tanks.
Susan Malyan, a cashier at United, spoke to the Herald on Thursday morning and said, “There have been queues since our delivery at 7.30am. It has been pretty manic.
“People have been coming in to pay and telling me they have been waiting for about 20 minutes.
“We get a delivery every morning but on Wednesday we had run out of petrol by 3pm and diesel by quarter to eight.
“I would really say we are concerned, we are continuing to get our daily deliveries and when that is gone it is gone until the next morning.”
The garage in Old Town also ran out of petrol on Wednesday night and had to wait until their delivery on Thursday afternoon. ASDA and Tesco in Eastbourne had queues at around 10.30pm on Wednesday and the Esso garage in Langney also saw panic buyers waiting to get fuel.
This panic buying, which is happening across the country, started with the news that hundreds of petrol tank drivers could strike in a row over working conditions and pay.
No strike dates have been set and the union would give seven days notice before any action but people have been queuing after the government advised people to fill up their half empty tanks.
Energy Minister Ed Davey recommended the change from common practice of filling up when about a third full.
Earlier government advice to store petrol in jerrycans, since withdrawn as a mistake, led to accusations that ministers were stoking a crisis.
The jerrycan mistake has also led to advice being issued by East Sussex Fire and Rescue.
Andy Reynolds, director of protection and prevention at the fire service, said, “At present there is no reason to believe that there will be any petrol shortage and our advice to members of the public is not to store any additional supplies.
“However, for those people that do, please remember that petrol is classed as highly flammable and produces explosive vapour at room temperature. Treat it with care.”
The storage of petrol is highly regulated by law and it is illegal for petrol stations to allow customers to fill any container which has not been designed and constructed for the purpose with appropriate warning symbols.
Filling the container to more than its capacity is also illegal because an air gap is needed because petrol expands when it gets warm and can easily rupture the container and cause a fire or explosion.
The advice from the fire service is
-Do not fill a container more than the capacity printed on the label.
-Do not store petrol inside a domestic premises.
-Store petrol in a place that is not part of or attached to a building used as a dwelling.
-Petrol must be stored in approved plastic or metal containers of the sort that can typically be purchased from filling stations.
-You can store up to 30 litres of petrol in two appropriate 10 litre metal containers and two appropriate five litre plastic containers.