Pump Problems: What we know so far about the gas leak, shortage

Atlanta drivers search for gas at pump

ATLANTA -- High prices and spotty outages continue to greet drivers at gas stations all across Atlanta. Crews continue to work to repair a leak in the gas pipeline that supplies fuel to the city and several other states, but drivers still might have lingering questions about when they can expect the pump problems to pass.

Here's what we know so far about the situation:

WHAT HAPPENED AND WHEN?

According to reports, a spill happened in a part of the pipeline in Helena, a rural part of Birmingham, Ala. The spill, which leaked more than 250,000 gallons of gasoline, was first detected on Sept. 9. But at this time officials don't know when the leak first began.

PHOTOS | Gas pipeline leak in Alabama

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WHAT LOCATIONS ARE AFFECTED?

The gas line distributes fuel from Alabama through the southeast, all the way up the eastern seaboard to New York. But the effects will be felt largely by Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia. Governors in those states have issued a state of emergency. 

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

Officials have already begun working to fix the break and announced they would be constructing a bypass around the leak in order to keep the supply running. But at this time, they don't expect to have any resolution for the incident until sometime this week.

IS THERE A GAS SHORTAGE?

Officials with Colonial Pipeline have been using an alternate line (normally used to carry jet fuel and diesel) to transport gasoline. The gas is still being distributed through that second line and fuel tankers, but there are still reports of spotty outages across the metro-Atlanta area.

PHOTOS | Metro-area residents impacted by gas shortage

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WHAT ABOUT PRICE GOUGING?

There have been some reports by viewers of gas prices shooting up to more than $4.00 a gallon at some stations in the metro area. But if it sounds like they're breaking a law, they're technically not.

According to the Georgia Consumer Protection Unit's website, a two-step process has to occur in order for sky-high prices to be considered gouging. First, the Governor has to declare a state of emergency for the state, which is already in place. Gov. Deal activated the emergency this past week in order to suspend limitations on trucking hours, allowing drivers to stay on the road longer to bring fuel to the state. 

Once the state of emergency has been declared, the governor then has to issue a freeze on prices for a service or a product for them to be subject to price control, which hasn't happened yet. Because of that, gas stations are free to charge as they please based on the supply and the demand.


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