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Pipeline operating again, but Va. gas stations could wait days for more fuel

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In the Valley, some gas stations had long lines yesterday, but today have been replaced by signs letting customers know that pumps are dried up.

WHSV heard from some that were filling up their tanks when they were not even low on gas. Experts say doing exactly that could lead to a much longer recovery process.

“We don’t have a supply problem we have a distribution problem. The gallons are going to come. It’s just a question of when,” Michael O’Connor, the President of the Virginia Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association, said.

The shortage of truck drivers delivering fuel to stations on top of this week’s pipeline shutdown is creating a lot of panic at the pumps.

The big question is when will this all be sorted out? On Tuesday evening announcements came that the pipeline is open again but it could be days before supply gets to states impacted by the shutdown.

”I think obviously we all hope it’s sooner than later so but we’re just working as hard as we can to try to get fuel and everything into the commonwealth,” Jason Elmore with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.

“I can say that Monday or Tuesday we’ll be pretty on the way back to normal so long as people don’t keep filling up unnecessarily,” O’Connor said. “Wait until you get to a quarter of a tank or if you really need it going on a long-distance trip.”

In the Valley, every gas station experiencing something different some out of regular and others out of premium.

“I was trying to get regular but I could only get plus. I only got $0.82 worth,” one Harrisonburg Sheetz customer said. “That’s all it was letting me get. It was just going so so slow and I don’t have time to wait.”

Gas shortages causing Shenandoah County Public Schools to cancel all extra-curricular and sports travel for the time being.

In the City of Harrisonburg, Michael Parks, a spokesperson for the city, said their supply is just fine. That means plenty of gas for school buses, police, EMS, and public works services.

“We have locations at two of our facilities, our Public Works building and our Public Transportation building, where we have gasoline and diesel for our city fleet,” Parks said. “Both of those still have thousands of fuel available and we anticipate we’ll be getting more by the end of the week. We have no concerns whatsoever when it comes to continuing city services.”

According to GasBuddy.com, which tracks gasoline outages, 53% of gas stations in Virginia are running on empty.

Meanwhile, some people have called WHSV about possible price gouging at the pumps. If you see it, the state wants you to report it.

“You know a price gouge when you see a price gouge,” Barry Moore with the Better Business Bureau said. “If gas is $2.99 today and $3.99 tomorrow, you’re probably looking at a gouge situation and that stuff needs to be reported to the attorney general’s office here in Virginia.”

If you think you see price gouging in Virginia, give the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection office a call. The number is 1-800-552-9963.

The Better Business Bureau said you should take down all the information you can about the situation. Gas stations are not supposed to be overcharging during a state of emergency, which Virginia is still in.

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