The Weather Channel
Officials are warning residents in the Southeast about possible gas shortages in the coming days after a gasoline spill south of Birmingham forced the shutdown of a key pipeline that supplies fuel to millions along the East Coast.
According to the Associated Press, the gas is mostly contained in a retention pond near Helena, and there’s no threat to the public. David York, a spokesman for Colonial Pipeline – the company that operates the pipeline – told AL.com that some of the gasoline leaked into the soil, but it was in a remote area with the closest home about two miles away.
Crews were working to ensure the gasoline did not reach nearby rivers, Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler told AL.com, and said that would be considered a worst-case scenario.
“It’s really pretty fortunate where it is, it’s in a pretty contained area,” Butler said, “and it’s been so dry here that most of the little perennial streams are pretty dry right now so there’s not really a lot of potential at this point for it to migrate toward the river.”
The pipeline runs from Texas all the way to New York Harbor.(Image via Colonial Pipeline)
The pipeline spilled about 250,000 gallons of gas and was shut down last Friday, according to a separate AL.com report. The pipeline normally transports 1.3 million barrels of refined gasoline and other petroleum products each day and is a major supplier of fuel from Houston to New York Harbor.
“Based on current projections and consultations with industry partners, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply,” Colonial Pipeline said in a statement. “Colonial has briefed officials in these states and will continue to provide timely information to the public so that they can plan accordingly.”
The biggest impact could come from gas shortages in the South if the pipeline is closed for a prolonged period of time.
As a result, a state of emergency has been declared by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. The executive order permits gasoline truck drivers to work beyond hour limits in times of possible gas shortages. The declaration also makes price gouging unlawful in the state if there is a shortage.
In neighboring Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal also issued an executive order that lifts regulations on truck drivers delivering gasoline throughout the state.
Ships have been sent from New York to Texas to help deliver fuel to the Northeast, CNN Money reported.
GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan said the pipeline shutdown could lead to a 5- to 15-cent spike in gas prices for Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, while South Carolina could experience a rise of up to 20 cents in the coming days.