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Alabama gas pipeline set to restart Wednesday after bypass finished

By
Allen Cone
Aerial photo of two of the three mine water retention ponds at the site of the gas leak in Shelby County, Ala. The retention pond on the right is where the gasoline has been contained according to Colonial Pipeline reports. Photo courtesy of Colonial Pipeline
Aerial photo of two of the three mine water retention ponds at the site of the gas leak in Shelby County, Ala. The retention pond on the right is where the gasoline has been contained according to Colonial Pipeline reports. Photo courtesy of Colonial Pipeline

SHELBY COUNTY, Alaska, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Colonial Pipeline plans to restart its Line 1 on Wednesday, 12 days after a leak spilled about 336,000 gallons of gasoline in Shelby County, causing fuel shortages and price increases throughout the southeastern United States.

Colonial said in a release that construction of a 500-foot bypass segment around the damaged section of pipeline has been completed. That new bypass line will be tested and connected to the main line.

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When Line 1 restarts, the company said it will take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal. "As such, some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions," the company said in the release. "Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal."

Authorities from the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration must approve the change before refined gas flows through Line 1, Colonial spokesman Don Pozi told AL.com.

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On Sept. 9, a mining inspector in Shelby County, Ala., detected a gasoline odor on mining property. He alerted Colonial Pipeline, which operates two pipelines in the area.

Originally, the company planned to dig out and repair the damaged line but there were unsafe concentrations of benzene and gasoline vapors nearby. On Saturday, Colonial announced it would construct the bypass line.

The company said it has had more than 700 employees and partners on-site, and has worked with federal, state and local agencies and local emergency responders to recover gasoline from the leak site and a mining retention pond.

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Colonial's pipeline system consists of more than 5,500 miles of underground pipe and above ground storage tanks and pump stations, according to the release. The line disruption mainly affected Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

Each day, Colonial Pipeline delivers more than 100 million gallons of refined products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, home heating oil and fuels for the U.S. military, to markets between Houston and New York City.

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