RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Drivers need to be patient and avoid rushing the state’s fuel pumps, Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday morning.
Crews are testing a completed bypass segment constructed fix the leak in a fuel supply line that has affected North Carolina since last week, and supply should soon return to normal, he said.
The state is currently only receiving about a third of its normal fuel supply, he said.
“They project the line will restart tomorrow, however it will still take a few days for the fuel supply chain to return to normal,” he said.
In the meantime, McCrory urged patience. He said he’s hearing of fuel outages “in pockets throughout the state,” but especially in the western part of the state and the area near Charlotte. The shortages, he said were caused by a “run” on fuel.
McCrory said people need to “resist the temptation to run to the gas station to top off their tanks. That causes more problems than anything, especially during the next 24 hours.”
He added, “This is typically a short-term problem, and it will remain a short-term problem if we can all follow these guidelines.”
In addition to touting actions he’s taken to allow easier transit of fuel trucks and prevent price gouging, McCrory called on the federal government to lift vapor-related restrictions to allow trucks to fill up with fuel faster at North Carolina’s ports.
“We’ve got a long line of tanker trucks at our ports,” he said.
The testing in Alabama is intended to verify the structural integrity of the 500-foot pipeline bypass that was recently completed.
The bypass will then be connected to the main line which is anticipated to be completed ahead of schedule.
Colonial Pipeline spokesman Steve Baker said crews have been working around the clock to get fuel to markets. The company said it has more than 700 employees and partners on site working on correcting the leak.
Fuel supplies in at least five states – Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas – were threatened by the spill of the Colonial Pipeline, which was detected Sept. 9 in Alabama.
The leak spilled 6,000 barrels of gasoline into a detention pond in Shelby, Alabama.
McCrory activated the State Emergency Operations Center in response to the temporary shortage.
The U.S. Department of Transportation ordered the company responsible to take corrective action before the fuel starts flowing again.
Already in North Carolina, many stations are without all fuel grades and some other stations have hiked prices.
Some stations are completely closed — and those that are open have long lines.
In some cases, prices nearly 80 cents per gallon higher than recent previous pricing.
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.