U.S. Safety Board to Begin Investigations Relating to Fatal Colonial Pipeline Accident

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an open investigation relating to the gasoline fire and explosion in near Helena, Alabama, which occurred last Monday and killed one worker and injured several others.

A section of Colonial Pipeline’s 5,500-mile Line 1 pipeline caught fire and erupted Monday in Shelby County, Alabama, just a mile near a section of the line that leaked hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline into a mine retention well and shut down gasoline to the U.S. Southeast for over a week.

The board announced Friday that a team of five members from the board will be in Alabama for several days to conduct interviews and collect evidence of the accident. Some will also visit Colonial Pipeline offices in Georgia to interview operations and engineering staff as well as to collect documents and data.

The fire that erupted on the line Monday during routine maintenance operations was finally fully extinguished on Friday, and operations have begun to remove residual gasoline from the pipeline and to replace the faulty section.


Gasoline Pipeline Explosion in Rural Alabama Kills One, Injures Several

A still shot from CNBC video footage of the fire caused by a gasoline pipeline explosion outside of Helena, Alabama in western Shelby County on October 31, 2016 (  CNBC News  )

A still shot from CNBC video footage of the fire caused by a gasoline pipeline explosion outside of Helena, Alabama in western Shelby County on October 31, 2016 (CNBC News)

The same pipeline that experienced a gasoline leak in early September and caused a gasoline shortage throughout the Southeast exploded in western Shelby County, Alabama on Monday and has been shut down.

The explosion occurred after a worker struck the pipeline with a track hoe, which caused gasoline to ignite and explode around 3:00pm Monday, sending thick, black smoke high into the air over the rural land. One worker was killed, and several workers were injured.

The effects of the explosion were not immediately clear, although two wildfires caused by the explosion have burned at least 31 acres of land and forced individuals living nearby out of their homes. According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the fire has been contained but remains burning.

“Our deepest condolences go out tonight to the family and friends of the person who was lost today, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured,” pipeline owner Colonial Pipeline said in a released statement Monday.

Colonial Pipeline also said in a brief statement following the incident that health and safety of its work crews and the public are its top priorities.


Colonial Pipeline: Damaged Pipeline to be Excavated, Sent to Lab for Testing

Colonial Pipeline Company has begun excavating the section of its Line 1 pipeline that failed and leaked thousands of gallons of gasoline in Shelby County, Alabama last month.

Once the pipeline is excavated, it will be sent to an independent laboratory for further testing.

PHMSA is leading the investigation into the failure of the pipeline and requires Colonial Pipeline to conduct various tests and analyses on the affected pipe. If PHMSA concludes that Colonial Pipeline violated any federal safety regulations, the administration may issue civil penalties or recommend a criminal investigation.

Colonial Pipeline is still working on cleanup operations around the site of the leak, mainly in a mining retention pond where most of the spilled gasoline collected.

Colonial built a bypass line around the leak and was able to restart regular operations of the line on September 21.


Colonial Pipeline: Expect Restart of Ruptured Gasoline Pipeline Wednesday

Colonial Pipeline Company announced Tuesday that it expects the restart of its Line 1 gasoline pipeline on Wednesday after a leak of approximately 6,000 barrels caused major gasoline shortages and higher prices at the pump in the Southeast.

Crews are constructing a bypass line that, when completed, will resume full operation of Line 1, which runs gasoline from the Gulf of Mexico to the East Coast. The bypass is about 500 to 700 feet long and will have roughly the same pressure and capacity specifications as Line 1.

Gas prices have risen significantly in the past week in the affected states, with Georgia getting hit the worst. The cost of fuel rose by 4.5 cents in Georgia overnight, adding to an increase of fuel prices by 25 cents in just a week, according to AAA.

The gasoline leak occurred September 9 on a section of Line 1 in Shelby County, Alabama. A mining inspector detected a gasoline odor while doing work nearby and reported the smell to authorities. The leak was then confirmed by Colonial Pipeline, and officials are currently investigating the cause of the spill, which remains unknown.


Southeast Gas Pumps Experiencing Shortages after Alabama Pipeline Leak

Gas prices are spiking across the Southeast after a pipeline break that leaked approximately 8,000 barrels of gasoline in rural Alabama last week.

The ruptured pipeline is Colonial Pipeline Company’s Line 1 pipeline, which can transport up to 1.2 million barrels of gasoline a day. The company has two main lines and is having to ship significant volumes of gasoline on their second line while they make repairs on Line 1.

Motorists in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina are seeing a growing number of gas stations with covered nozzles indicating they are out of use. And gas stations that are still pumping gas are increasing their prices.

Colonial Pipeline said the company was working “around the clock” to repair the break and get supplies to the affected states. The company also stated over the weekend that it is in the process of constructing a temporary pipeline that will bypass the ruptured section of Line 1 in Shelby County, Alabama.

Meanwhile, federal regulators are in the process of investigating the cause of the pipeline leak, which is currently unknown.

Wall Street Journal

Shelby County Pipeline Leak Spilled an Estimated 250,000 Gallons of Gasoline

Aerial photo of two of the three mine water retention ponds at the incident site. The retention pond on the right is where the gasoline has been contained. ( Colonial Pipeline )

Aerial photo of two of the three mine water retention ponds at the incident site. The retention pond on the right is where the gasoline has been contained. (Colonial Pipeline)

Colonial Pipeline Company now estimates that nearly 6,000 barrels or 252,000 gallons of gasoline were spilled in the pipeline leak last Friday in rural Shelby County, Alabama.

Colonial Pipeline, the largest refined products system in the U.S., shut down two of its main lines, Line 1 and Line 2, after the leak was discovered by workers at a mining operation. Line 2 has restarted since Friday, and the company expects Line 1, which is currently being repaired, to be completely restarted by this weekend.

The company wrote on its spill-response website that there has been no threat to public health or safety.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Federal Government has restricted the airspace above the release location to further protect responders, personnel, and the public,” the company stated.

Most of the spill has been contained in a mining retention pond, and crews are working to remove the gasoline with skimmers. Booms have also been deployed to prevent gasoline from reaching a dry creek bed that runs to Peel Creek.

Nearly 500 employees and contractors are working on the response, according to Colonial Pipeline.

PHMSA officials are currently investigating the cause of the leak.

Colonial Pipeline

Gasoline Pipeline Leak Detected in Alabama is Contained

Colonial Pipeline is making repairs to a gasoline pipeline leak that was discovered and reported in Shelby County, Alabama on Friday. The affected pipeline has been shut off until repairs are completed.

Workers at a mining operation discovered the leak when they smelled strong gasoline odors near the intersection of County Road 91 and Lindsey Road. They called Colonial Pipeline who confirmed the leak.

The cause of the leak is currently unknown, and the amount of gasoline spilled has not yet been determined.

Colonial Pipeline, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency are all involved in assessing or managing the spill.

David Butler of the conservation group Cahaba Riverkeeper was informed of the spill by Colonial Pipeline which advised Butler on the possible effects to a nearby river. Butler expressed to reporters of AL.com that it would be “pretty extraordinary” for the spill to reach the river but that aggressive steps are being taken to protect the water.

The spilled gasoline has soaked into some soil, and some collected into a mining retention pond near the site.

Spokesman for Colonial Pipeline David York said the affected area is very remote, and the spill has been confined. No surrounding communities or waterways should be affected.


Tennessee County Plans Simulated Oil Spill to Test Emergency Preparedness

tennessee county plans simulated oil spill to test emergency preparedness

A county in Tennessee plans to hold a disaster preparedness exercise on Friday that will call into practice the appropriate steps to quickly and safely handle an oil spill.

Shelby County’s Office of Preparedness will put together a simulated oil spill that is set to occur in downtown Memphis and will involve several agencies in the call-to-action.

The drill involves a simulated oil spill that will threaten the Wolf River Chute and damage the Canadian National North Rail Yard. 

Agencies included in the drill are the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security-Infrastructure Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and the Memphis fire and police departments.