New Yorker Sean Bailey accused of pulling gun in gas line

Caution tape surrounds the pumps of a closed gas station on Northern Boulevard Nov. 1, 2012, in the Queens borough of New York. AP Photo

NEW YORK The fight for fuel after Superstorm Sandy is starting to get nasty.

New York City authorities say a motorist was arrested after he tried to cut in line at a gas station in Queens early Thursday and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says 35-year-old Sean Bailey, of Queens, was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. It wasn't clear whether he had a lawyer.

If convicted, Bailey could face up to 15 years in prison.

Drivers in parts of New York and New Jersey lined up Thursday for hours at gas stations that were struggling to stay supplied. The power outages and flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy have forced many gas stations to close and disrupted the flow of fuel from refineries to those stations that are open.

On Thursday, New Jersey State Police deployed troopers at all gas stations located on the rest stops of two major highways, CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports.

At the same time, millions of gallons of gasoline are sitting at the ready in storage tanks, pipelines and tankers that can't unload their cargoes.

"It's like a stopped up drain," said Tom Kloza, Chief Oil Analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

Superstorm Sandy found a host of ways to cripple the region's energy infrastructure. Its winds knocked down power lines and its floods swamped electrical substations that send power to entire neighborhoods. It also mangled ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines. Without power, fuel terminals can't pump gasoline onto tanker trucks, and gas stations can't pump fuel into customers' cars.

The Energy Department reported Thursday that 13 of the region's 33 fuel terminals were closed. Sections of two major pipelines that serve the area — the Colonial Pipeline and the Buckeye Pipeline — were also closed.

Thousands of gas stations in New Jersey and Long Island were closed because of a lack of power. AAA estimates that 60 percent of the stations in New Jersey are shut along with up to 70 percent of the stations in Long Island.

Thursday morning the traffic to a Hess station on 9th Avenue in New York City filled two lanes of the avenue for two city blocks. Four police officers were directing the slow parade of cars into the station.

A few blocks away, a Mobil station sat empty behind orange barricades, with a sign explaining it was out of gas.

Taxi and car service drivers were running dry — and giving up, even though demand for rides was high because of the crippled public transit system. Northside Car Service in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has 250 drivers available on a typical Thursday evening. Yesterday they had just 20. "The gas lines are too long," said Thomas Miranda, an operator at Northside.

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