After a 330,000-gallon spill shut down a gasoline pipeline in Alabama on Sept. 9, fuel shortages and high gas prices are occurring across the Southern United States this week, NPR member stations report.
Emily Siner of Nashville's WPLN tells NPR's Newscast that prices there have risen about 20 cents per gallon since Thursday, and officials are urging drivers not to fill up unless they need to:
"The closure is already affecting some stations in the state. An employee at a Shell station in Columbia told WPLN that it was out of gas for about two hours Friday morning until a new shipment came in."
Siner interviewed Nashville driver Brett Kern — who happens to be a Tennessee Titans football player — who told her he was almost on empty when he finally found gas at a station off Interstate 65.
"I was 0 for 6 on Saturday, 0 for 3 yesterday, and then I called about four stations this morning," Kern said. "This was the first one that had it."
Patrick DeHaan, a senior analyst at GasBuddy.com, told Siner that Tennessee can get gas from the Midwest or a Memphis refinery, but supplies are harder to come by in other states, including Georgia.
WABE's John Lorinc reports that gas prices are up 30 cents in the past week to $2.47 a gallon, and that stations are struggling to keep up with demand. A local motorist described a shuttered gas station.
" 'Lights are completely dark, there's no one there. There's signs on the pump. Yeah. I was like, I didn't know it was this bad,' said Kimberly Williams, a resident of Atlanta."
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency, Lorinc reports, allowing gas truck drivers to work longer-than-normal hours.
Colonial Pipeline Co. tells The Associated Press that it's aiming to have a temporary bypass running around the leak by the end of the week. In a statement the company said supplies from a second pipeline "have been delivered and/or are in route to terminal locations in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina."
Some lucky breaks meant that the fuel spill was well-contained and didn't make it into nearby waterways, the AP reports.
"From an ecological standpoint, the spill couldn't have happened at a better place or time because the terrain funneled the fuel into [a nearby retention] pond and the water was low enough in the small lake to enable it to hold the gas, said [environmentalist David] Butler, of Cahaba Riverkeeper."