The Latest: Pipeline blast related to repair of earlier leak

AP News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2016 4:13 PM
The Latest: Pipeline blast related to repair of earlier leak

HELENA, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the Alabama pipeline explosion (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

A federal agency that regulates pipelines says contractors were working on repairs stemming from a September leak when gasoline ignited and spread fire to the Colonial pipeline in Alabama.

Colonial Pipeline executive Gerald Beck said a nine-man crew was using a track hoe to excavate the pipeline as part of preparation work so permanent repairs of the September leak could be made. Beck said the track hoe — a large piece of heavy equipment — struck the pipeline, causing the explosion Monday.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Colonial spokesman Bill Barry said one worker was killed, one was treated for injuries at the scene and four others remain hospitalized. He had no updates on their conditions or the severity of their injuries.

Three other workers on the crew escaped injury.

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2:30 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency to ease restrictions on gasoline truck drivers following a pipeline explosion, saying the accident might disrupt fuel distribution in the state.

Bentley's action Tuesday means that for the time being, truckers carrying gasoline won't be subject to the limits on hours they may drive that apply under normal circumstances.

Governors in other states took similar actions after a leak in the Colonial pipeline in Alabama last month led to gasoline shortages across the South, as trucks carrying gasoline help make up some of the shortfall caused by the closed pipeline.

Monday's blast killed one worker and injured several others. Investigators have not determined a cause.

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1:35 p.m.:

From 3,000 feet in the air, a flame can be seen still burning in a haze of smoke a day after a pipeline explosion left a charred scene in an Alabama forest.

An AP photographer flew over the site Tuesday morning and saw the flame, the smoke and trucks parked near the Colonial pipeline that were covered in gray ash.

Monday's blast killed one worker and injured several others. Investigators have not determined a cause.

Photographer Brynn Anderson said the blackened earth and a large area of charred trees are surrounded by other trees just beyond the burned area that are awash in fall colors, a stark contrast.

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1:40 p.m.:

Colonial Pipeline says it has restarted one of its two main pipelines after an explosion in Alabama, but anticipates that its main gasoline line will remain down the rest of this week.

The Georgia-based company said in a statement Tuesday that it restarted its Line 2, which transports diesel, jet fuel and other products, around 11 a.m. Central Time Tuesday.

Colonial shut down both of its main lines after Monday's blast, which killed a worker and injured several others.

A Colonial Pipeline leak last month led to gas shortages and rising prices across the South.

After the September leak, Colonial said it made up some of the gasoline shortfall by sending gas through the line that usually carries diesel and jet fuel. The company has not said whether it intends to do so again.

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12:15 p.m.:

Witnesses say they heard two explosions in rapid succession when a pipeline exploded and caught fire in Alabama.

Eddie Moore and his wife were at home in their rural house a few miles from the site of Monday's blast when they heard loud, sharp sounds in the distance.

He said he heard "two quick sounds, like boom, boom!"

Moore said he drove closer to the sounds and saw flames shooting more than 100 feet in the air, plus thick smoke. Still, Moore said living so close to the blast doesn't bother him.

One worker was killed and several others hurt in the explosion.

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Noon:

Experts say motorists could soon begin seeing higher costs at gas pumps in some Southern states after a pipeline explosion in Alabama.

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline said it shut down both of its main lines after Monday's blast, which killed a worker and injured several others. Both lines, which supply gasoline to millions of people across the South, remained closed Tuesday morning.

AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson says that if both lines remain shut down, drivers could begin to see higher prices at the pumps within about a week.

Johnson noted that Colonial was able to open its second main line soon after last month's leak was detected, and began moving products through it. This situation could be different, if both lines remain closed for days.

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3:15 a.m.

An explosion has shut down a pipeline that supplies gasoline to millions of people for the second time in less than two months, raising the specter of gas shortages and price increases.

One worker was killed and a half-dozen were injured in Monday's blast in Alabama.

An earlier pipeline leak not far from Monday's explosion led to Colonial Pipeline to shut down the delivery system in September. That prompted dry pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The effects of the latest disruption aren't immediately clear.