Area motorists see gas station closures, gas shortages

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 19, 2016

The pumps at Ingles in Landrum were closed Saturday. (photo by Michael O’Hearn)

The pumps at Ingles in Landrum were closed Saturday. (photo by Michael O’Hearn)

State of emergency declared following pipeline leak in Alabama

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office issued a statement Friday evening declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina following a pipeline leak last week that has left states up and down the East Coast with gas shortages.

These shortages are a result of the Colonial Pipeline burst in Helena, Ala. near Birmingham. The pipeline extends from Houston, Texas to New York, supplies fuel for 50 million people a day along the East Coast and began leaking on Friday, Sept. 9, according to pipeline officials.

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Some counties have resorted to limiting consumers to 10 gallons per visit, and some stations are completely out of gas until further notice.

Gas stations in Landrum and Columbus have seen shortages over the weekend, including the Ingles in Landrum where only premium gas is available. As a result, the Shell gas station across the street has seen an influx of customers. Gas prices there rose as much as 20 cents in 48 hours.

Ingles Markets made an official statement on their Facebook page Friday afternoon and said individuals in search of gas need to call their gas station before driving there.

“This has seriously affected the availability of fuel to supply Ingles fuel centers as well as other retailers and gas stations throughout our region,” the Facebook post said. “We ask for your patience and understanding and we, like you, hope the situation will be corrected within the week. We are trying to have price signs removed or signs put up at pumps if the fuel station is temporarily out of gas.”

McCrory’s statement said his office is working with state and national officials to ensure North Carolina is not impacted by the leak and added the executive order will protect motorists from excessively high gas prices.

“This executive order will help protect our motorists from excessive gas prices and ensure an uninterrupted supply of fuel that is essential for the health, safety and economic well-being of businesses, consumers and visitors in North Carolina,” McCrory said in his press release.

Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry said the office of Gov. McCrory’s first priority is maintaining public safety, urging first responders to double check their vehicles to ensure they have adequate fuel supplies on hand.

“We’ve seen fuel disruptions like this before and want to reassure people that there’s no need for alarm at this time,” Perry stated.

McGuinn’s Store in Mill Spring announced on Facebook Saturday afternoon they would be limiting people to $20 per vehicle per day with no added gas cans for fill-ups.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience but our gas company has advised us to put a limit on gas for the next few days,” the McGuinns Store Facebook post explained. “We are following the suggestion in order to take care of our customers. The limit per vehicle per day is $20.00, no gas cans please. Hopefully this will make sure everyone gets to where they need to be until the shortage is over.”

Officials believe six states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama are all facing shortages due to the spill, the size of which has been estimated from 230,000 to 350,000 gallons, according to various media reports. The pipeline was shut down Sept. 9, and Colonial Pipeline is working on a bypass pipeline, according to the company’s website.