Shelby County, AL – Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday.
The pipeline operator, Colonial Pipeline, released the following information Thursday afternoon: “Based on current projections and consultations with industry partners, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply.”
The fuel line that carries refined gasoline from Houston to the East Coast has leaked roughly 6,000 barrels of gasoline since Monday, September 12th. The leak is expected to increase fuel prices across the Southeast, and the governors of both Alabama and Georgia have declared official state emergencies, preparing residents for fuel shortages.
Parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply. On Thursday afternoon, fuel operator Colonial Pipeline declared that it has briefed officials in every state where fuel shortages are expected. The health and safety of the roughly 500 first responders at the site of the cleanup is of primary concern.
The gasoline vapors in the pond are not at safe levels for human health so it has not been safe for workers to recover much of the product from the spill. Yet a recent update states that federal, state, and company officials have cleared crews to begin the excavation process.
Colonial Pipeline also raised its estimate of the size of the spill. The company announced last week that the spill leaked around 6,000 barrels of gasoline, which is 252,000 gallons. Now, they are saying that the leak was actually between 6,000 and 8,000 barrels, which is 336,000 gallons. One barrel is 42 gallons.