McCrory: Asheville area hit hard by shortage, Colonial expects to restart line Wednesday

Photo credit: MGN (MGN)

ATLANTA, Ga. (AP ) -- The pipeline company working to repair a leak that led to gas shortages and higher prices for drivers across the south says its bypass repair is complete, and it expects to restart its main gasoline line Wednesday.

Gov. Pat McCrory held a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. to give an update on the fuel shortage affecting our state.

McCrory acknowledged that construction of the bypass is complete, engineers are testing it today, and the line is expected to restart Wednesday. The pipeline is the primary source of gasoline for North Carolina, he said, and after the break the pipeline was entirely shut down.

After the break, the state received only 1/3 of its usual supply of fuel, he said.

WNC and Charlotte were the hardest-hit areas during the worst of the shortage.

The supply chain could be back to normal in two to three days, McCrory said in the press conference.

McCrory encouraged motorists to limit travel and resist temptation to run to the station and top of their tanks. "If everyone rushes to the gas station, it just compounds the problem," he said.

Colonial Pipeline spokesperson Steve Baker tells the Associated Press that testing is now being done on the line.

Baker said crews have been working around the clock to get fuel to markets, and that it will take a few days for the fuel supply chain to fully recover after the line restarts.

The 500-foot (152-meter) bypass was needed to move fuel around the leak of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama.

The leak, which spilled 6000 barrels of gasoline into a detention pond, was detected Sept. 9.

McCrory said the state spent around $50,000 a day to help speed up gas delivery after the pipeline break.

The state has fielded hundreds of complaints of price-gouging, McCrory said.

"Well look forward to returning to business as usual."

Read the press release from Gov. McCrory's office here:

Governor McCrory Provides Update on Fuel Situation
Colonial Pipeline bypass completed; Still several days for fuel flow to return to normal
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory announced today that Colonial Pipeline has completed construction and positioning of the bypass pipeline in Alabama, but it will still take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal in North Carolina.
“I’m pleased to report that Colonial Pipeline has now completed construction and positioning of the bypass pipeline,” Governor McCrory said. “Colonial engineers are testing the pipeline today and upon successful completion, will prepare for a safe restart of the main fuel line. The company says the line should restart tomorrow, but it will take several days for fuel delivery to return to normal in North Carolina.”
Colonial Pipeline officials discovered a leak in the pipeline in Helena, Alabama where an estimated 252,000 gallons were spilled. As a result, North Carolina is currently receiving about one-third of the state’s normal supply of fuel. After the leak, Colonial Pipeline started constructing the bypass line around the leak site and announced today that that bypass line was completed.
The governor said his primary focus remains ensuring that our first responders have sufficient fuel to do their jobs. The governor said that several counties in North Carolina have been reporting intermittent fuel outages or low supplies, but that many of the outages are due to people topping off their tanks and extra fill ups.
“We’ve successfully weathered fuel shortages before and we will do it again,” Governor McCrory said. “Now is the time to pull together as a state and to conserve fuel when it’s possible. We look forward to returning to business as usual in the near future.”
On Monday, Governor McCrory instructed state agencies to consider options to limit fuel usage, including curtailing non-essential travel for state employees. Today, he also encouraged the private sector and North Carolina motorists to follow the state’s example by conserving fuel whenever possible.
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