A pipeline critical for supplying gas stations in the Upstate and Midlands has been shut down again for the second time in little more than two months.
This time, operator Colonial Pipeline shut down the pipe after it said a trackhoe in Alabama hit the line and caused an explosion Monday, killing one person and injuring five others. The closure is indefinite at this point until repairs can be made.
The resulting shutdown comes little more than a month after Colonial was required to close the line in mid-September following a leak in Alabama. That shutdown led to higher prices and even some outages across South Carolina gas stations as the supply line became trickier.
But AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright warned drivers not to rush out and buy gas, saying that response is largely what caused the shortages in September. “We have a ton of supplies here in the United States and you would like to just see a reshuffling of distribution behind the scenes,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “But unfortunately, when things like this happen, there’s panic. And there’s overindulgence. That’s why we see shortages.”
The organization is encouraging drivers not to alter their gas buying patterns or “top off” their tanks, which Wright said puts a strain on stations that already lost their primary supplier. “People just wrapped around gas stations (in September) trying to get gas,” she said. “And they were topping off when they didn’t need to. They were filling up their entire fleets. And that, unfortunately, is what led to the shortages.”
Normally about 2.3 million barrels of refined product is transported through the pipeline. Gov. Nikki Haley declared emergencies during September’s outages and issued executive orders to suspend state regulations that limit the size and weight of trucks as well as the number of hours delivery drivers could be on the roads.