Gasoline Pipeline Leak In Alabama Could Raise Prices And Lead To Gas Shortages In Eastern United States

A gasoline pipeline leak in Shelby County Alabama threatens to disrupt fuel supplies in several east coast states. A section of the Colonial Pipeline has ruptured in Lindsey’s Crossing, spilling approximately 250,000 gallons of gasoline in the rural setting, according to RT News. CNN Money reports that the pipeline serves about 50 million people and has been closed since September 9.

The leaked gasoline has been directed into three mine water retention ponds where it is being contained. There is no danger to local residents, according to U.S. EPA officials at the site. The Cahaba River has also been protected from any potential for contamination, so the fish and wildlife there are safe as well, according to AL.

Gas from the gasoline pipeline leak in Shelby County cannot easily be recovered from the ponds, according to Colonial pipeline spokesman Bill Berry, as reported by RT.

“It’s not safe for our workers to recover much product off of the pond due to gasoline vapors. It’s a challenge for us to do much because the vapors are not at safe levels for human health. So that presents a challenge to say how much has been released.”

The gasoline pipeline leak in Alabama is likely to impact fuel supplies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. However, eventually the impact could be felt in all east coast states and as far north as New York, where the pipeline ends. According to RT, Colonial Pipelines released a statement Thursday afternoon concerning some of the problems this leak might cause.

“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 has briefed officials in these states and will continue to provide timely information to the public so that they can plan accordingly.”

The gasoline pipeline leaking in Alabama usually carries 1.3 million barrels of gasoline per day. The pipeline has been shut down since Friday as workers seek to repair the leak. It is hoped that the pipe will be fixed by sometime next week, according to CNN Money, but it is currently difficult to pinpoint a timetable for the repairs.

The governors of Alabama and Georgia have issued a state of emergency in an effort to effectively prevent price gouging at the pumps and also to allow for additional trucks to carry fuel. The executive order will allow substantial overtime for fuel truck drivers. This kind of longer shift for fuel truck drivers is prohibited by the U.S. Department of Transportation except during emergencies.

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The gasoline pipeline leak in Alabama will probably raise gas prices in the southeastern states by as much as five to 15 cents per gallon in states impacted by the leak, according to CNN Money. Despite efforts to both repair the pipeline and find alternative means of transporting gasoline, there could be shortages. Ships are currently being loaded in Houston for delivery to New York Harbor.

Chief oil analyst Tom Kloza with Oil Price Information Service explained to CNN Money that transporting gasoline by means other than the pipeline just costs more, and it is far less efficient. It is likely, he says, that there will be some gas stations that will not receive deliveries.

“You’re going to see some places without gasoline. It’s like a mini-hurricane. People are going to be seeing a five to 10 cent a gallon increase at a time they’re normally seeing a five to 10 cent a gallon price drop.”

The gasoline pipeline leak in Alabama will impact the availability and price of gasoline in the southeastern United States, and perhaps the entire east coast as far north as New York.

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