ATLANTA (AP/WJHL) – Company officials say they’ve successfully tested a temporary bypass for a broken pipeline and they plan to restart the line this evening. The broken pipeline in Alabama led to gas shortages across the South.
The company said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that it expects to restart the line this evening, though it will take several days for fuel supplies to return to normal in markets served by the pipeline.
Authorities said a leak in the pipeline was discovered Sept. 9 near Helena, Alabama, when state workers noticed a strong gasoline odor and sheen on a man-made retention pond.
The company has estimated that 252,000 gallons to 336,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from the line. The shut-down of the pipeline led to dry pumps at gas stations in Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
According to AAA, once the line is restarted, drivers may still some “spotty outages” as it may take a few days for supply to return to normal in those states. Once fuel deliveries are back on schedule, prices will drop to previous levels, says AAA.
Currently, the gas price average in Tennessee is $2.14 per gallon — which is an increase of 15 cents from last week.
AAA says even with the delayed fuel supplies, the state’s average remains seven cents below the national average. In addition, the state of emergency is still in effect to protect consumers from price gouging.
The following is a release from Colonial Pipeline:
SHELBY COUNTY, AL – Colonial Pipeline issued the following update this morning regarding its response to a product release in Shelby Co., Alabama, and ongoing efforts to restart Line 1.
Following construction and positioning of the 500-foot bypass segment of pipeline around the leak site yesterday, Colonial Pipeline performed a successful hydrostatic test to confirm its structural integrity and completed the connection/“tie-in” of the bypass segment to the main line (Line 1) this morning.
With the structural integrity of the fully completed and connected bypass line tested and confirmed, Colonial Pipeline will remove inline plugging devices that were installed at points on both sides of the impacted pipeline segment during the initial incident response operations and perform other work necessary to safely return Line 1 to service. Based on operational progress made overnight and the anticipated schedule of work ahead, Colonial Pipeline projects that Line 1 will be restarted this evening.
Subsequent to restart, it is expected to take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions. Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so as markets return to normal.
The safety and protection of the public, responders and the environment remain paramount in all activities associated with these efforts. Throughout 13 days of incident response, only one minor first-aid injury has been recorded; environmental protection efforts have successfully contained the release to the immediate release site; and there have been no impacts to the safety of the general public.
Line 1 Release Site Excavation and Investigation
The focus of Colonial Pipeline and the Unified Command continues to be on remediating the site and safely returning Line 1 back to service via the bypass and resuming the delivery of vital gasoline and other transportation fuels to markets along the pipeline. Following the resumption of service on Line 1, Colonial Pipeline will work in close consultation with federal, state and local officials to excavate and remove the impacted segment of the pipeline so that a full and complete investigation can be conducted to determine the cause of this incident. It would be premature to speculate on the cause of the September 9 release until the pipe has been excavated, inspected, and investigations are complete.