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Fuel Supply in Multiple States Threatened by Pipeline Spill

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — A pipeline here leaked as many of 336,000 gallons of fuel, forcing a shutdown and subsequent gas price rise in the Southeast.

Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina have been specifically affected by the Colonial Pipeline Co. leak. The 36-inch line, built in 1963, is estimated to serve up to 40 percent of the east coast’s gasoline supply.

According to AAA, the average price of a regular gallon of gasoline rose 5 cents per gallon in Georgia overnight from $2.26 per gallon to $2.31 per gallon. However, many motorists saw gas prices rise 20 cents or more per gallon, and some convenience stores, such as a QuikTrip in Alpharetta, Ga., has been gasless since Sept. 17 and does not expect a shipment until Sept. 21 or Sept. 22, reported The Associated Press.

In response, state governments have taken action to prevent price gouging. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order aimed at preventing price gouging, while North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said he and other state officials are working with fuel suppliers to quickly replenish fuel supplies.

“We continue to be in regular communication with our customers, who are also working on their own individual contingency plans to minimize supply disruptions. This includes trucking and barging fuel from other markets and refineries,” Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline said in a statement.

The company added it has begun to construct a temporary pipeline that will bypass a leaking section of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County. In its unknown when this temporary pipeline will be up and running.

An inspector with the Alabama Surface Mining Commission first detected a leak on Sept. 9 when noticing a strong smell on gasoline during a routine check. The smell came from Colonial Line 1, three-foot-in-diameter pipe that moves approximately 1.3 million barrels of gasoline per day from refineries in Houston to distribution centers across the Southeast and along the eastern seaboard.

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