Agency: Colonial Pipeline leak led to vapors in air, dead animals

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ELENA, Ala. (AP) — Federal officials say highly flammable vapors keep investigators from the site of a gas leak for the first few days after it was discovered.

The pipeline leak in Alabama has led to gas shortages across the South. Harmful chemicals in the air prevented firefighters, company officials and anyone else from being near the site for more than three days.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in a preliminary report that the failure of the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama left about 6,000 barrels of gasoline in a pond near Helena, Alabama. The agency said state workers had noticed a strong gasoline odor, along with dead vegetation nearby, on Sept. 9. Three raccoons and a rabbit were later found dead.

The agency said highly flammable benzene and gasoline vapors in the air prevented anyone from investigating the cause in the first few days after it was discovered.

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