Colonial: Main gas pipeline to be closed for rest of the week

Nov. 1, 2016: AAA says how much an explosion on the Colonial Pipeline will impact fuel prices depends on how quickly the pipeline company gets its line up and running again.

A fuel pipeline closure could impact the supply and price of gasoline in East Tennessee. Experts, however, say any impact would not be any greater than what drivers saw in September, when that same pipeline closed for more than a week.

Colonial Pipeline, the company that owns the distribution line, says it has restarted one of its two main pipelines after an explosion Monday in Alabama, but anticipates that its main gasoline line will remain down the rest of this week.

The Georgia-based company said in a statement Tuesday that it had restarted its Line 2, which transports diesel, jet fuel and other products, early that morning.

It doesn't anticipate opening Line 1 before the end of the week.

From 3,000 feet in the air, a flame could be seen still on Tuesday burning in a haze of smoke a day after a pipeline explosion left a charred scene in an Alabama forest.

An AP photographer flew over the site Tuesday morning and saw the flame, the smoke and trucks parked near the Colonial pipeline that were covered in gray ash.

Colonial shut down both of its main lines after Monday's blast, which killed a worker and injured five others.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one of injured workers had been released from the hospital. Four others remained.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased, and our thoughts and prayers remain with the four individuals who were injured and who continue to receive care at area hospitals," Colonial Pipeline said in a statement Tuesday.

A Colonial Pipeline leak in September led to gas shortages and rising prices across the South.

Stephanie Milani, a spokesperson with AAA in East Tennessee, said Monday that gasoline futures were already up five percent since news of the pipeline explosion.

"It's not a guarantee but motorists could see higher prices in the near future," Milani told WBIR 10News.

The Colonial Pipeline is one source of fuel for the state of Tennessee.

After the September leak, Colonial said it made up some of the gasoline shortfall by sending gas through the line that usually carries diesel and jet fuel. The company has not said whether it intends to do so again.

Dean Flener is executive officer at the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. He said there's a chance this closure may not impact East Tennessee in the way September's closure did.

"Unlike Sept, the fuel inventories in Tennessee are in much better shape," Flener told 10News. "In September, the changeover from the summer to winter blend (of gasoline) was occurring."

That change had gas stations at 45 percent of their normal inventory already - and then the pipeline disruption happened.

Now, he said, gas stations have bounced back from September and are at 100 percent of their normal inventory.

Both he and Milani encourage drivers not to panic amid this news. They encourage people to drive and refuel their cars as they normally would.

"There are other ways to get fuel to East Tennessee," Milani said, outlining a backup plan. "We can have water-borne deliveries. We can have tanker trucks coming in from the north, as far away as Chicago. We can also have tanker trucks coming in from the West because Memphis, Tennessee is fed off a different line."

Photographer Brynn Anderson said the blackened earth and a large area of charred trees are surrounded by other trees just beyond the burned area that are awash in fall colors, a stark contrast.

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HELENA, Ala. (AP) - An explosion has shut down a pipeline that supplies gasoline to millions of people for the second time in less than two months, raising the specter of gas shortages and price increases.

One worker was killed and a half-dozen were injured in Monday's blast in Alabama.

An earlier pipeline leak not far from Monday's explosion led to Colonial Pipeline to shut down the delivery system in September. That prompted dry pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The effects of the latest disruption aren't immediately clear.

From 3,000 feet in the air, a flame can be seen still burning in a haze of smoke a day after a pipeline explosion left a charred scene in an Alabama forest.

An AP photographer flew over the site Tuesday morning and saw the flame, the smoke and trucks parked near the Colonial pipeline that were covered in gray ash.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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