A gas shortage is causing panic buying in the southern portion of the United States due to break in the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama. According to AL.com, the pipeline break was discovered on September 9, 2016, when a “strong odor of gasoline” was discovered during a routine check by the Alabama Surface Mining Commission.
The Colonial Pipeline is the largest gasoline pipeline that transports gas to the southern and east coast regions of the United States. With a diameter of three feet, the Colonial Pipeline can allow over one million barrels of gasoline per day through it. The pipeline was shut off after the break was discovered but that was not until after 336,000 gallons of gasoline had already been spilled into the environment. The shutting off of the main gasoline pipeline in the south had caused states of emergency to be declared in states surrounding Alabama.
Governors in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were quick to enact executive orders, understanding that many people were going to stock up on gas. These state of emergency declarations ease restrictions on how long truck drivers can drive to deliver gasoline and they also protect consumers by making it illegal for gas stations to raise the price of gasoline.
People living in the areas most impacted by the gas shortage have been connecting with each other via social media to pass on information about which gas stations still have gas in them.
— Ray Raynor (@NCSUSC) September 18, 2016
I live near Wake Tech…and gas stations are empty up and down 401. I did find one with 87 percent but can’t… https://t.co/qPeSSyf8Xj
— Christina McCaffrey (@AKACMac) September 18, 2016
I took this gas shortage thing as a joke at first but all of Greenville is like a ghost town all our gas stations are out of gas
— GAYcie (@lesmiserxbles) September 18, 2016
Many are wondering as to why a gas shortage is impacting multiple states when the break in the pipeline is in Alabama. The reason is due to the length of the pipeline. According to a report in the Guardian, the Colonial Pipeline runs from Houston, Texas, to Linden, New Jersey. Since the pipeline needs to be shut off for repairs, all areas serviced by it are no longer receiving fuel from it.
To make sure a gas shortage does not impact the New York City area, a ship full of fuel left Houston and is making its way up to the Mid-Atlantic region. As of Friday afternoon, the ship had just passed Florida and was heading north.
Workers attempting to repair the pipeline have stated that they will be building a bypass line to get the gasoline flowing again. No official date has been set as to when the public could expect the new pipeline to be opened.
Ecologically speaking, the gasoline that was spilled could not have happened in a better place. The gasoline ended up settling in a retention pond that was built by a mining company working in the area. Speaking to the Guardian, James Pinkney, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency explained why the area of the break has the EPA less worried about the environmental impact.
“You really couldn’t have planned it any better than this. There are no homes nearby, and it’s fully contained. It’s so fortunate.”
What are your thoughts on the gas shortage caused by the break in the Colonial Pipeline? If you live down south, do you still have gas at your local gas stations?
[Featured Image by Jacob Jordan/AP Photo]