The Latest: QuikTrip: Charlotte, Atlanta hit by gas shortage


ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the gas shortage caused by a pipeline spill (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

A QuikTrip spokesman says 21 of the 37 stores in the Charlotte, North Carolina area were out of unleaded gas Monday afternoon.

Chuck Barton said that in metro Atlanta, more than 60 of the 131 QuikTrip stores were also out of unleaded gas Monday afternoon.

Gas shortages across the South are blamed on a pipeline rupture near Helena, Alabama. Pipeline repairs are underway, but it’s not clear how long that will take.

Barton said that Tulsa, Oklahoma-based QuikTrip is strategically supplying some QuikTrip stores with gas at all times, so that customers are able to get gas at those stores even if some others are out.

The company is keeping a list on its website of stores in both markets that have gas available.

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6 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley toured Colonial Pipeline’s emergency response center, located in a luxury resort hotel about 12 miles from the pipeline breach, and spent much of a news conference praising the company’s response.

Bentley said Monday that gas prices in parts of the state rose 20 cents over the weekend, but the governor says he didn’t consider that price gouging.

He says it changes that much sometimes overnight.

The spill sent thousands of gallons of gasoline pouring into a retention pond at the site of an old mine.

Environmentalist David Butler says no fuel made it into the nearby Cahaba River. Butler has been to the spill site and is monitoring the response.

He says, “We averted a disaster this time.”

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5:30 p.m.

North Carolina’s consumer protection watchdog is getting reports of potential gas price gouging as the state’s gas stations report running low because of a leaking pipeline in Alabama.

Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday urged North Carolina consumers to report gas prices that seem unreasonably high. Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley says investigators are checking reports of gas being sold at $5.89 a gallon and another offered at more than $4 a gallon.

Talley says a station north of Winston-Salem advertised a price of $9.99 a gallon, but that was after it had run out of gas.

A North Carolina law makes it illegal to overly inflate prices for critical goods and services during the emergency or abnormal market disruption declared on Friday. Violators can be fined up to $5,000.

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4:15 p.m.

Federal officials say highly flammable vapors keep investigators from the site of a gas leak for the first few days after it was discovered.

The pipeline leak in Alabama has led to gas shortages across the South. Harmful chemicals in the air prevented firefighters, company officials and anyone else from being near the site for more than three days.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in a preliminary report that the failure of the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama left about 6,000 barrels of gasoline in a pond near Helena, Alabama. The agency said state workers had noticed a strong gasoline odor, along with dead vegetation nearby, on Sept. 9. Three raccoons and a rabbit were later found dead.

The agency said highly flammable benzene and gasoline vapors in the air prevented anyone from investigating the cause in the first few days after it was discovered.

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3:30 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has issued another executive order to make it easier to keep gasoline supplies flowing to the state following a pipeline spill in Alabama.

The order declares that an emergency exists and waives some federal weight, size and length limitations allowing larger trucks on the road to haul fuel. The order also extends one issued last week waiving limits on the number of hours that commercial drivers can be behind the wheel.

Haley’s press secretary Chaney Adams says the governor is working with state officials and industry leaders to ensure an adequate supply of gasoline in the state. Adams said that residents should continue to buy gasoline as they would normally.

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12:45 p.m.

Trucks have been rumbling down the road near the site of a pipeline rupture in Alabama that led to gas shortages across the South.

Retiree Lawrence Barnett said the effect of the spill hit home Monday, when he drove to Fox Valley Mart to buy gas and found the nozzles covered in black and yellow plastic bags.

Several miles away in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham, police guarded the entrance to a Colonial Pipeline terminal beside Interstate 65. Tanker trucks like those used to haul fuel were parked around the property, where gasoline removed from the spill has been stored, and a steady stream of trucks came and went through the gate.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley planned to tour the spill response center Monday afternoon.

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1:10 p.m.

A spokesman for AAA says the automobile club expects gas prices to continue inching upward as repairs are made to a pipeline that ruptured in Alabama, leading to scattered gas shortages across the South.

AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend said Monday that the organization expects gas prices to keep rising while the Colonial Pipeline is at less than full capacity.

The spill was first detected Sept. 9. The leak of more than 252,000 gallons (953,000 liters) of gas in Alabama has led to gas shortages in several southern states.

Townsend said Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas have seen the most significant impacts on fuel availability.

The pipeline carries fuel on its main lines from the Houston area to Linden, New Jersey, with smaller “stub lines” extending into Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

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12:45 p.m.

North Carolina’s attorney general says hundreds of consumers have complained about potential gas price gouging as a leaking pipeline in Alabama causes supply shortages across the Southeast.

Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday urged North Carolina consumers to report gas prices that seem unreasonably high. Cooper’s office says more than 400 people have filed complaints online and via a toll-free hotline.

A North Carolina law makes it illegal to overly inflate prices for critical goods and services during an emergency or abnormal market disruption. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency on Friday. Violators can be fined up to $5,000. The money goes to public schools.

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12:20 p.m.

South Carolina gas stations that might be affected by an Alabama pipeline break are largely in the northwest part of the state along the Interstate 85 corridor.

The executive director of the South Carolina Petroleum Council, Bonnie Loomis, says large sections of the rest of the state get gasoline brought into Charleston on tanker ships. She says that as of Monday, the pipeline company is increasing truck shipments to gasoline terminals in the northwest part of the state.

South Carolina and other states across the South have seen a spike in gas prices since the pipeline break. Loomis says independent stations who buy gas on the spot market, as opposed to national retailers who have long-term delivery contracts, could be affected first.

Loomis said the council, an industry trade group, is urging motorists buy gas as they normally do and not keep topping off their tanks. Topping off, she says, puts a stress on supplies and could contribute to shortages.

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11:30 a.m.

Drivers are finding some gas pumps completely dry in metro Atlanta.

Fuel supplies in at least five states — Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas — have been threatened by a pipeline spill in Alabama.

In the East Atlanta neighborhood, Lindsey Paluka said she stopped at a Shell gas station only to find a gas pump handle covered by a black garbage bag and no gas to be had. She said she was on empty, “so I’m going to have to figure something out.”

At an Exxon station near downtown Atlanta, 25-year-old Eric Luckner of Germany said he was concerned because of news coverage about shortages. He was able to gas, but observed that “prices have definitely jumped.”

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10:40 a.m.

Gasoline prices are increasing across the South following a pipeline break in Alabama.

AAA Carolinas reports the average price for a gallon in North Carolina on Monday was $2.16 — up from $2.05 last week. In South Carolina, a gallon was selling for an average of $2.04. That’s an increase of 13 cents from last week.

The difference in the prices between the states is North Carolina’s higher state gasoline tax. Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama also have had prices spike since the spill.

Tiffany Wright, a spokeswoman for the motor club based in Charlotte, North Carolina, says the higher prices should be temporary until full fuel shipments resume.

She says gas prices normally drop after the busy summer driving season. Even with the recent increases, the price of gas in the Carolinas is still less than the national average of $2.20 a gallon.

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10:20 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued an executive order aimed at preventing price-gouging by merchants amid some gas shortages caused by a recent pipeline break.

In the order signed Monday morning, Deal said there have been recent reports that wholesale and retail gas prices have “substantially increased” in some markets.

The governor said in the order that price-gouging is harmful to the social and economic welfare of Georgia residents, and issued the order prohibiting the practice.

The spill was first detected Sept. 9. The leak of more than 252,000 gallons (953,000 liters) of gas in Alabama has led to gas shortages in Georgia and fueled fears of more widespread shortages across the Southeast.

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9 a.m.

A pipeline company working to repair a break in Alabama that has led to gas shortages across the Southeast says it has worked around the clock on a plan to minimize disruptions to the region’s gas supply.

In a statement early Monday, Colonial Pipeline said supplies of gasoline have either been delivered or are on their way to terminal locations in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Fuel supplies in those five states were threatened by the Alabama pipeline spill last week.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company has two main lines. The company said Monday that it’s shipping “significant volumes” on the second of the two lines to mitigate the impact of the interruption on the other line.

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8:40 a.m.

Gas prices are on the rise in Georgia.

Overnight, AAA reported that the price of regular gas in Georgia jumped more than 5 cents from Sunday’s average of $2.26 to the current average of just over $2.31.

The average price of regular gas in Georgia a week ago was around $2.10, AAA reported.

The national average price for regular gas in the U.S. on Monday is just over $2.20.

Fuel supplies in at least five states — Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas — have been threatened by a pipeline spill in Alabama, and the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered the company responsible, Colonial Pipeline, to take corrective action before the fuel starts flowing again.

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7:30 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he and other officials are working with fuel suppliers to monitor and quickly replenish gasoline supplies.

McCrory’s office issued a statement Sunday night saying a pipeline repair in Alabama should soon have normal supplies flowing to North Carolina.

The governor’s statement says state officials are working to make sure motorists are protected from excessive gas prices and minimize any interruptions in fuel supplies.

Some service stations across the state reported they’ve run out of gasoline.

McCrory’s office says most of those stations are getting new supplies of gas or will get them Monday.

A break in a Colonial Pipeline discovered Sept. 9 interrupted service to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company doesn’t know when the spill started.

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3:40 a.m.

Despite some gas station employees saying they’ve run out, the Georgia governor’s office has said they haven’t received any complaints of gas shortages within the state after a pipeline spill in central Alabama.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokeswoman Jen Ryan said in a statement Sunday that they haven’t received any complaints but will act accordingly if that changes.

Fuel supplies in at least five states — Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas — were threatened by the spill, and the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered the company responsible, Colonial Pipeline, to take corrective action before the fuel starts flowing again.

Drivers in Atlanta area found some pumps completely dry or they had to pay 20 cents more because, according to a sign on the pump, the gas had to be pulled from Savannah.

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