Mercer Professor details what happens during pipeline breaks

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – “It’s the panic mentality right?” said Mercer University Associate Professor Dr. Stephen Hill. “You hear this situation occurs and then the first thing you want to do is make sure you have enough.”

Gotta have enough gas–The colonial pipeline in Alabama has broken again.

“If you have gas, everything’s going to be fine,” said Hill. “They can get gas to you.”

It happened for the first time about a month ago, and everyone made sure to get gas, causing a shortage, and making prices go way up.

“So now everyone goes out and tries to get gas, and you have the local stations that are waiting on the next shipment that will be delayed, they run out of gas,” said Hill.

Mercer Associate Professor Dr. Stephen Hill has worked with an oil distribution company and specializes in how fluid interacts with pipes.

He knows what happens when a pipeline breaks.

“They basically have to remove that back section, they cut that section out and then install some valves, you know the plumbing valves that you have in your house, your apartment? They put those two valves in place and they slide a new pipe in,” said Hill.

But first, they have to make sure it’s safe–when a line breaks like that, gas is everywhere.

“Once the pipe is gashed you got fluid going everywhere, product all over the ground product everywhere,” said Hill.

That would soak the workers in gasoline.

“When I worked–I worked with an oil and gas service company,” said Hill. “We had protective equipment on at all times. So now that stuff is soaked. ”

But even with the gear, it isn’t a good situation–and one worker died when this particular line broke.

“If they get soaked in gasoline or diesel or whatever they have there, they’re still going to burn,” said Hill.

It’s a tough situation for those involved, and for drivers at the pump with prices possibly going up.

So when could they have it fixed?

“I’ve heard as soon as this weekend until two weeks,” said Hill. “It really depends on OHSA coming in and making sure the place is safe and any investigation they have with the death of the person.”

But Hill says we should probably be okay.

“The last time–the last incident one of the things they did is they brought gas in through Savannah and Charleston so they brought more tankers in to make sure the southeast had gas,” said Hill. “So just relax, everything will be okay.”

Gas prices in Macon are already going up–so if you have enough gas, try to wait to fill up.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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