No timetable for gas pipeline repair after leak that cut NC fuel supplies

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Colonial Pipeline Company announced Saturday that crews began repair work Friday afternoon in Alabama — but then said Saturday evening that they would instead need to build a bypass line, which they have not even started construction on by Sunday.


UPDATE! Gas won’t flow in bypass pipeline until Friday — at the earliest, NC officials say

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company said crews began excavation work to unearth and repair the damaged section of “Line 1” around 3:30 p.m. Friday and continued efforts intermittently throughout the night and into Sunday.

But, now, Colonial must conduct testing and analysis on the failed section of the pipeline, according to the U.S. Transportation Department, which is investigating the spill in rural Alabama.

Colonial gave no timetable as to when that bypass line would be completed or what path it would take — until then, prices could soar and supplies could run out.

According to a release from Colonial, “…engineers continue to explore alternatives, including the construction of a temporary segment of pipeline around the leak site to allow Line 1 to return to service as rapidly and safely as possible.”

Late Sunday afternoon, photos from the company showed some bypass pipes were delivered to the site.

The leak surfaced last week on the pipeline and it provides fuel to this state, as well as other eastern states.

RELATED: NC price gouging law in effect after gas pipeline failure leads to shortages, outages

Colonial Pipeline Company doesn’t expect to fully reopen its primary gasoline pipeline, which has spilled more than 250,000 gallons near Birmingham, Alabama, until next week.

The company said the top priority of all the groups who have responded to the leak, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal, state and local agencies, is the safety and protection of nearby residents, crews on scene and the environment.

Safety is also the first priority here in North Carolina.

“Our first priority is maintaining public safety. To that end, we are asking first responders to double check their vehicles to ensure they have adequate fuel supplies on hand to run their operations,” said Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “We’ve seen fuel disruptions like this before and want to reassure people that there’s no need for alarm at this time.”

Colonial said that in addition to around-the-clock repairs, they’re now shipping gasoline to their second line to “help mitigate the impact of the service interruption to Line 1.”

The company said they have been able to make limited deliveries to western Alabama on Line 1.

Colonial Pipeline said that in their statement that “Under normal circumstances, the Colonial Pipeline system transports approximately 2.6 million barrels of refined products each day with Line 1 accounting for half of this volume. Colonial is currently shipping as much gasoline as possible on Line 2…to help mitigate the impact of the service interruption to Line 1. These changes have allowed all origins and delivery markets to be served along the entire system, albeit in a more reduced capacity.”

The leak is already having an impact in North Carolina, specifically at Sheetz locations.

“The primary issue is beyond our control and we do not know when this situation will be resolved. In the meantime, our Sheetz team is working diligently to locate fuel from other sources and our stores will remain open 24/7/365 to service our customers with everything we offer inside the stores,” said Tarah Arnold, Sheetz spokeswoman.

Around a dozen Sheetz in the Triangle are affected by the disruption.

Colonial said that supply disruptions would be felt first in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order Thursday temporarily waiving hours of service restrictions for fuel vehicles traveling in and through the state.

“We are working with state and national officials to make sure North Carolina is not impacted by this leak,” said McCrory.

The move will help prevent disruptions and backups at major fuel distribution hubs, the Department of Public Safety said in a release.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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