The Mingo County Airport Authority Board agreed to delay final payment to the contractor that installed the fuel farm at the Appalachian Regional Airport until ongoing problems with the fuel dispensing system have been corrected.

That determination was made during the MCAA’s regular meeting last week after Chapman Technical Group Project Engineer Melissa Defibaugh presented her monthly report and reminded the board of the approximately $24,000 still owed to the contractor and its desire to receive payment.

She said the contractor, Florida-based Fuel Tech, Inc., has been contacting her about not having received any

payment towards the balance.

MCAA officials said the fuel farm, whose installation was contracted to Fuel Tech approximately two years ago for nearly $500,000, has experienced a series of mechanical and/or electrical problems with motors and pumps necessary to dispense fuel since the fuel farm was declared completed by the company.

Officials said this failure to operate properly has in turn prevented the MCAA from selling either gas or jet fuel to planes flying through the region.

MCAA officials said selling fuel to passing pilots is a primary source of income for all airports and an inability to dependably sell fuel at the ARA has continually created a financial strain on the MCAA.

While Fuel Tech representatives were at the airport recently and did seemingly rectify the problem, MCAA Vice Chairman Michael Williams, who was onsite with the Fuel Tech workers at the time the recent repair work was being performed, said the fix didn’t last long.

“We were able to pump about 500 to 1,000 gallons of gasoline after they worked on it, but it quit pumping and basically it’s back to where it was before they came,” he said.

Williams explained the motor/pump failure was likely due to a voltage problem. He said that if either a voltage underage or overage actually turned out to be the glitch in the system, resulting in the motor/pump failure, it could only mean that the system had been improperly installed at the outset.

Because the system’s failure to work properly has been continual, Chairman Denver Stacy suggested it would be in the the MCAA’s best interest to delay payment on the balance until Fuel Tech finds a permanent solution.

Defibaugh said she would inform Fuel Tech officials of the board’s decision and then relay the company’s response to the MCAA as soon as she receives it.

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