ATLANTA (AP) — Colonial Pipeline has restarted the gasoline pipeline in Alabama that had been shut down because of a major leak, which caused shortages and surging fuel prices in Robeson County and across the South.
The pipeline was reopened Wednesday evening, company officials said in a statement. The pipeline leak was discovered Sept. 9 near Helena, Alabama, when state workers noticed a strong gasoline odor and sheen on a man-made retention pond.
The preliminary report does not identify the cause as the federal investigation continues. It wasn’t initially possible to pinpoint the leak, partly because highly flammable benzene and gasoline vapors prevented firefighters and inspectors from approaching the site for days.
The pipeline section that failed, built in 1963, runs from Mississippi to Atlanta.
The company has estimated that 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from the line. The shutdown of the pipeline led to dry pumps at gas stations in Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas despite executive orders by governors across the South to suspend limits on trucking hours. That allowed drivers to stay on the road longer to bring fuel to gas stations.
Gas prices rose about 20 cents throughout North Carolina, including in Lumberton where prices have hovered around 2.19 per gallon this week.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has issued subpoenas to seven gas stations accused of price gouging, or excessively raising their prices in time of crisis. None are in Robeson County.