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Colonial Pipeline: What’s the impact in the DC area? | WTOP

The cyberattack that hit Colonial Pipeline, the one of the largest gas pipelines in the U.S. has fueled panic-buying and long lines at the pump around the country — including in the D.C. area.

Drivers line up for gas at a Costco off Route 29 in Northern Virginia early on May 12, 2021.

WTOP/Neal Augenstein

Colonial Pipeline: What’s the impact in the DC area? | WTOP
A U.S. Route 50 Shell station in Virginia ran out of gas ahead of morning rush hour on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

WTOP/Neal Augenstein

gas station line
People line up for gas at a Sunoco on westbound Lee Highway in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12, 2021.

WTOP/Dave Dildine

WTOP listeners share their experiences trying to fill up

The cyberattack that hit Colonial Pipeline, the one of the largest gas pipelines in the U.S. has fueled panic-buying and long lines at the pump around the country — including in the D.C. area.

As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, about 15% of Virginia’s nearly 3,900 gas stations reported being out of gas, according to GasBuddy, which tracks supply.

About 3.5% of Maryland gas stations reported being out of gas.

In D.C., about 8% of stations are out of gas, according to GasBuddy. In Baltimore, it’s about 7% of stations.

Officials have stressed there is no gas shortage and people shouldn’t race to the pumps, but many appear to be doing just that.

In North Carolina, nearly 25% of gas stations reported being out of gasoline, according to GasBuddy.

The Colonial Pipeline, which runs from the Texas Gulf Coast to the New York metro area, provides gas to about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by hackers on Friday who locked up the pipeline’s computer systems and demanded a ransom.


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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Tuesday to help the state prepare for potential supply shortages. The emergency declaration also allows state authorities to crack down on price gouging of gas and fuel.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring encouraged drivers to report suspected price gouging to the state’s Consumer Protection Section at [email protected] or by calling 800-552-9963.

One Woodbridge gas station owner who called WTOP said that people are really scared after hearing about the state of emergency.

But the owner, who declined to be identified, said gas station owners were able to order gasoline supplies Wednesday, and those supplies coming to Virginia from the Midwest are expected Thursday night or Friday, so people will not be without gasoline.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein went on “Pump Patrol” throughout Northern Virginia.

“Just off I-66 in Prince William County, there’s lot of gas stations here on Route 234/Sudley Road, and they have plenty of gasoline,” Augenstein said. “Large chains, independent gas stations. There are some gas stations in Northern Virginia that still don’t have gas from yesterday. Gas experts say that if drivers avoid panic buying, filling up all their families, trucks will have time to finish their deliveries and everyone will be able to weather the few days until the pipeline back to normal.”

A large part of the Colonial Pipeline went back into operation manually late Monday and the pipeline anticipates restarting operations by the end of the week.

U.S. government officials said they were speeding the delivery of fuel by truck, ship and rail and sought to reassure the public there was no cause for alarm.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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