AAA responds to pipeline shutdown, warns against ‘panic buying’ gas

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:13 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is declaring a state of emergency addressing the disruption in gasoline supply. This announcement comes after the Colonial Pipeline System reported a ransomware attack resulting in a temporary shutdown.

That pipeline is the primary fuel source for many Virginia retailers.

Locally, you may start to notice a difference at the pump, both with longer lines and a change in price. AAA reports that the city of Harrisonburg is up two cents from yesterday and about seven cents from a week ago.

“There is ample supply of fuel out there, right now it’s a distribution issue with that fuel, there is fuel sitting on the pipeline and normally, if the pipeline was up and running, we would not be having any kind of problems at gas stations,” said Morgan Dean, AAA mid-Atlantic spokesperson.

Dean says this time of year, gas prices increase due to an uptick in travel, so this is a “double whammy.” Dean adds you should still wait until your car is down to a quarter tank before filling up at the pump.

“People start filling up a lot more. You know they fill up one day, they drive 30 miles and then they fill up the next day,” he said. “Panic buying of gas like that will create more problems down the road, and that could create the shortages at some stations that we’re all trying to avoid.”

To conserve gas, drivers can combine errands, take heavy attachments off vehicles and check their air filters and tire pressure.

The timeline of when the pipeline system will be fully up and running is still unknown. Dean says one of the lines that run from North Carolina to Maryland was restarted Tuesday.

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