After nearly two weeks of being shut down following a leak near Helena, Alabama, Colonial Pipeline Co. restarted its Line 1 pipeline on Sept. 21.
Following construction and positioning of a 500-ft bypass segment of pipeline around the leak site, Colonial announced it had performed a successful hydrostatic test to confirm its structural integrity and completed the tie-in of the bypass segment to the mainline that morning.
With the structural integrity of the bypass line tested and confirmed, Colonial removed inline plugging devices to safely return Line 1 to service. The plugs were installed at both ends of the impacted pipeline segment during the initial incident response.
The company expects it to take several days before the fuel delivery supply chain returns to normal. Some markets served by the Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions. According to a company statement, Colonial continues to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as possible and will continue to do so as markets return to normal.
The safety and protection of the public, responders and the environment remain paramount in all activities associated with these efforts, the company said. Throughout 13 days of incident response, only one minor first-aid injury has been recorded; environmental protection efforts have successfully contained the leak to the immediate release site; and there have been no impacts to the safety of the general public.
The focus of Colonial Pipeline and the Unified Command continues to be on remediating the site and safely returning Line 1 back to service. Following the resumption of service on Line 1, the company will work in close consultation with federal, state and local officials to excavate and remove the impacted pipeline segment to facilitate a complete investigation to determine the cause of the leak.
Colonial shut down Line 1, as well as nearby Line 2, on Sept. 9, after an Alabama Surface Mining Commission inspector in Shelby County, Alabama, detected a gasoline odor on mining property. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a corrective action order Sept. 16 that required the company to initiate a restart plan that included third-party mechanical and metallurgical testing and a failure analysis of the affected pipe segment, as well as in-line inspection of to ensure there has been no metal loss, deformation or other damage.
Throughout the response efforts, Colonial is monitoring the Cahaba River and a Peel Creek tributary on a daily basis. Preliminary results from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colonial Pipeline environmental contractors have shown no impact to either waterway as a result of this release.
The Cahaba Wildlife Management Area between State Highway 270 and Copperhead Road will remain closed to all non-local residents and is expected to remain closed during this response effort. The Cahaba Wildlife Management Shooting Range and access to ATV trails in the area also remain closed.
Under normal circumstances, the Colonial Pipeline system transports approximately 2.6 million barrels of refined products each day, with Line 1 accounting for half of this volume. Colonial is currently shipping significant volumes of gasoline on Line 2, the distillate mainline, to help mitigate the impact of the service interruption to Line 1.
Colonial is providing daily updates of cleanup efforts at: https://helena.colonialresponse.com/category/news-updates.