As Native Americans protesters face arrest in North Dakota for blocking the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, TheAntiMedia’s Carey Wedler reports a gasoline pipeline spill is currently unfolding in the South. The leak has prompted Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to declare states of emergency.
The Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to New York, began leaking on September 9, spilling 250,000 gallons of gasoline, or 6,000 barrels. The pipeline was built in 1962, and the current leak in Helena, Alabama, is the largest one Colonial Pipeline has experienced in 20 years, Reuters noted.
AL.com reported that according to the Colonial Pipeline company’s spokesperson, Bill Berry, the pipeline could still be leaking:
“The leaking pipeline was shut down [last] Friday after the leak was discovered, but Berry said there may be additional gas still inside the pipeline. The leaking section of pipeline hasn’t been excavated yet due to safety precautions, so Berry said the condition of the pipeline and cause of the leak is still unknown.”
Hundreds of employees and contract workers face health risks from inhaling vapor as they work overtime to clean up the spill, which the company says is contained to a mining retention pond. AL.com reports “the leak was discovered at the inactive mine site by employees of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission.”
The governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama have declared states of emergency, not due to environmental concerns, but over the gas shortage that will result from the leak. After Colonial Pipeline announced Thursday there would be a delay in restarting the pipeline because “work activity was intermittent overnight due to unfavorable weather conditions that caused gasoline vapors to settle over the site,” the price of gasoline futures rose six percent… even as crude futures prices tumbled…
As CNN reports, The major pipeline, one pipe of which has been severed, provides gasoline for an estimated 50 million people on the East Coast each day, according to company estimates. The cause of the leak has yet to be determined, according to the company’s most recent statement.
The pipeline’s operator has said full service will not be restored until at least next week. The closure has set off an industry-wide scramble as suppliers seek alternative ways to transport gasoline to the East Coast.
According to reports, the leak will likely start affecting drivers in the nearby states of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina within a matter of hours and may spread in coming days. Colonial Pipeline Co., which transports some 40% of the gas along the I-95 corridor says at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline have already been lost.
Senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan warned that some stations may run out as primary gasoline transportation shipping routes along the East coast have been temporarily closed.
Not every station will be able to get the gasoline it needs, he said.
“You’re going to see some places without gasoline,” he said. “It’s like a mini-hurricane.”
The pipeline operator said that based on its current projections, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina will be the first markets to suffer potential supply disruptions.
And sure enough the price of East Coast gasoline is soaring relative to the slide in West Coast… (4month highs for East Coast vs 1-month lows for West Coast)
Gas prices typically fall at this time of year. Thursday was the day that stations in most of the country could start using the cheaper winter blend of gasoline rather than the summer blend, which is formulated to combat smog. But East Coast gas prices are spiking already…
As SHTFPlan’s Mac Slavo notes, the massive pipeline leak in Alabama is threatening widespread gas shortages and significant price hikes on the East Coast of the United States. Though the leak reportedly poses no danger to the public, officials say it stands to affect drivers all along the I-95 corridor from Florida to Maine.
If you live in any of the aforementioned states then you may want to head to your local gas station and fill up the tanks. Though any shortages will be temporary, not being able to get gas for several days or a week could prove troublesome to the 50 million residents served by the Colonial pipeline. The shortage may also impact grocery store deliveries, so if you have any essential items you absolutely must have it may be a good idea to pick those up before trucks stop delivering.
The declared states of emergency highlight the fragility of just-in-time delivery systems that include critical goods like gasoline, food and medicine. As we’ve previously noted, even a small emergency could wreak havoc on a local, state or nationwide basis with immediate and catastrophic consequences for the populace.
Mansfield Oil, a fuel distributor, has warned its customers to take fuel savings measures and to place their orders early. The company said the supply of gasoline is currently very thin along the closed pipeline, and that it was trucking in supplies from the coast to meet demand. The company said it was treating the situation “with the same importance and urgency as a natural disaster.”