Gov. declares state of emergency after gasoline pipeline shutdown

Published: Sep. 16, 2016 at 9:45 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2016 at 3:45 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Following the temporary shutdown of a vital gasoline pipeline that brings fuel into the Commonwealth, Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to help mobilize resources to prevent potential gas shortages.

McAuliffe signed Executive Order #59 Friday afternoon, calling it "a proactive step to protect Virginia citizens and businesses by ensuring that companies can bring in the gasoline supplies they need to offset any shortages that may arise as a result of this event."

This order will allow for certain state and federal regulations that place limits on the number of hours motor fuel carrier driver can drive per week to be extended.

The state hopes the order will give truck drivers flexibility to be able to deal with potential supply shortages caused by the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

"The shutdown of this pipeline may result in gasoline supply disruptions to various retailers throughout the Commonwealth, since the pipeline is the only source of gasoline into Virginia for many of these retailers," Executive Order #59 reads.

"While current gasoline reserves in the Commonwealth are sufficient to address any immediate supply concerns, it is necessary, in accordance with § 44-146.17, that the Commonwealth take appropriate measures to prevent any resource shortage occasioned by this disaster."

The pipeline begins in Houston, Texas, ends in Linden, New Jersey and snakes its way through Virginia and ten other states along 5,000 miles of pipe, according to the company's website.

Crews were forced to shut down the pipeline Sept. 9 after an employee in rural Shelby, Ala. detected an odor of fuel products on mining property.

Colonial Pipeline, which operates two pipelines in the immediate vicinity of the odor, shut down both lines as a precaution and employees were dispatched to the scene for a visual survey of the site.

The gasoline released from the pipeline is "contained in a nearby mine water retention pond. Skimming operations are ongoing," a spokesperson for Colonial said in a written statement. "Underflow dams have been constructed and boom has been installed as a contingency to prevent product from reaching a dry creek bed that runs from the pond to Peel Creek."

Officials have projected the system will restart this weekend.

This week, officials told NBC12 News that they are currently using a parallel pipe that normally carries diesel and jet fuel to transport gasoline toward Virginia customers.

Colonial Pipeline is just one part of the system that supplies fuel to gas stations in Richmond. Officials do not believe there should be any disruption to service, but prices could rise up to 20 cents if repairs remain incomplete within the next few days.

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

Report an Error or Submit a Tip to NBC12