A pipeline explosion and fire in Shelby, Alabama on Monday (31 October) that injured seven workers has prompted a rise in gasoline prices. Colonial Pipeline Co opted to shut down its main gasoline and distillates pipelines following the incident.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said that the nine-man crew had been conducting work on the Colonial pipeline, which had been undergoing maintenance when the explosion occurred.
Reuters reported that seven crew members were injured, with two airlifted out of the blast site. Hospital spokesman Adam Pope said four of the victims were take to the UAB hospital in Birmingham.
Colonial announced emergency crews and company personnel were responding to the blast. The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) also said personnel were en route.
The gasoline pipeline was closed in September for more than 12 days following a massive leak. According to Reuters, the leak released as much as 8,000 barrels (336,000 gallons) of gasoline. A restart was slated for mid-November following the removal of a bypass line installed after the 9 September leak.
The governor's office said the explosion site was about a mile west of the leak and noted that a three-mile (4.8-km) area around the site was evacuated. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency also announced on Twitter that there is a temporary flight restriction in effect in the area around the blast.
The fire from the blast was finally contained around 9pm EST (1am GMT). Coleen Vansant, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Forestry Commission, told the Associated Press that crews built a 75-foot-long dam to contain the burning fuel, which will be allowed to burn itself out.
The company's decision to shutdown the pipeline led gasoline prices in New York to jump the most in nearly eight years, Bloomberg reported. Premium to crude prices rose 60%, while December-delivery gasoline jump by as much as 15%.
Bloomberg reported that the fuel's premium to Brent crude soared to as high as $18 a barrel.
The 5,500-mile (8,850-km) Colonial pipeline is the largest in the US. Reuters reported it transports gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from the US Gulf Coast to the New York Harbour area. According to PHMSA data, the pipeline has experienced five spills in Alabama in 2016.