Fuel supplies in at least 5 states threatened by Ala. gasoline pipeline spill

Fuel pipeline spill
Fuel pipeline spill 01:20

ALABAMA -- Fuel supplies in at least five states are threatened by a gasoline pipeline spill in Alabama.

When it’s working, the Colonial Pipeline company’s “line one” carries fuel from Houston to New York, filling the gas tanks of millions of people.

And when it’s not working, there are long lines to get gas, mammoth price spikes and even dry pumps in parts of Georgia and Tennessee.

It’s all because of a massive fuel spill in central Alabama.

A gas station displays a sign informing customers it is out of certain grades of gasoline in Atlanta, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. David Goldman, AP

At least a quarter billion gallons of gas erupted from an underground pipe. It’s been shutdown since the spill was discovered September 9. 

And now six southern states are under emergency orders: Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and North Carolina. This is allowing fuel trucks to work longer hours in hopes of averting a crisis.

“I hit like three gas stations and all of them empy,” said one person. 

“We have a pipeline burst and there’s a shortage, so I’m trying to fill up,” another person said. 

Tanker trucks line up at a Colonial Pipeline Co. facility in Pelham, Alabama, near the scene of a 250,000-gallon gasoline spill on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016.  Jay Reeves, AP

Patrick Dehaan is a senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy. He said the South should brace for 20 to 40 cent price bumps per gallon.

“I don’t think we have seen such a large disruption of fuel supplies since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005,” he said. 

The broken pipeline ends in Northern New Jersey.

Crews began excavating the leaking pipeline on Friday afternoon, but the cause and status of the leak is still unknown and there’s no firm timetable for a fix. In the meantime, gas is being shipped to the east coast by truck, and also tanker ship.