Quality inspectors have found a high content of water in two gasoline samples in Ho Chi Minh City, as part of their efforts to explain the mysterious vehicle fires that have been occurring nationwide since last year.
The samples came from two stations that reportedly received gasoline mixed with additives according to an investigation by Thanh Nien newspaper last month.
One of them is located at 469 Bach Dang in Binh Thanh District, belonging to the country's top fuel retailer Petrolimex, and the other at 982 Truong Son, Thu Duc District.
The water content was measured at 172 mg per kilogram of fuel at the Bach Dang station and 151 mg at the other, according to test results released Thursday by the Quality Assurance and Testing Center at the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Tests found the amount of acetone and methanol in the samples met Vietnam's quality standards. Methanol as an additive has been alleged to increase gasoline's combustibility and has been suspected of causing many vehicle fires.
But Tran Quoc Tuan, head of the center, said that such high content of water is enough to prove "there are problems with the gas" and that the center will spend more time looking into the matter.
Vietnam's quality standards, issued in 2009, do not state appropriate level for water content in lead-free gasoline.
Dr Le Anh Tuan from Hanoi Polytechnics University said in a report by news website VnExpress that "Water in the fuel will affect the evaporation and combustion of the fuel, and erode the engine."
Tuan said it is hard to trace the origin of the gas as the stations were supplied by different companies.
More than 100 unexplained vehicle fires since early last year, including one that killed a taxi driver in January this year, have prompted the quality center to take gas samples from five localities, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Bac Giang and Bac Ninh Provinces in the north for testing.
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