Corey Hilberg spent the afternoon making his regular gasoline delivery to this Qwick Stop service station. But, because the pipeline that brings gasoline to Northern Nevada has been shut down, he wasn't able to load his truck at the Sparks fueling station like usual. "We're forced to drive over the hill to California instead of use the pipeline and pick up gas and bring it to the stations here in Nevada." He tells us this load is from Bradshaw, just East of Sacramento, only a mere 145 miles away.
"I could do the same load in an hour and a half versus a seven hour trip. You can get five to six loads a day versus one, one and a half."
Experts say that time delay could lead to a shortage of gasoline in Northern Nevada, especially if the Sparks facility gets low on its inventory. Some people in the community who caught wind of the incident began stocking up on gas.
A representative from Kinder Morgan, the company that owns and maintains the pipeline, says the leak was minor with very little environmental impact...and hopefully, with little impact on prices. In a phone interview they say, "There may be isolated instances where certain products may be limited in their availability at certain gas stations, but as far as a widespread outage of product, that's not happening."
The company says the cause of the leak is still under investigation.
This is not the first time the company has had a leak. Some critics say this company, that's based out of Houston and founded by former Enron employees, has had so many problems, that it's credibility could be compromised.
The most recent, serious incident involving Kinder Morgan happened last fall when two people were killed and six injured in a gas line explosion in Walnut Creek, California. It happened when a construction crew accidentally hit the fuel line that carries gasoline from Concord to San Jose.
Prior to that, the company's thousands and thousands miles of pipeline have been linked to numerous oil spills.
In 2003, a line ruptured in Tucson, Arizona, spewing 50,000 gallons of gasoline onto a construction site, polluting groundwater and driving up fuel prices for drivers in that state and parts of California. Earlier this year, Kinder-Morgan paid a half million dollar fine for that disaster.
Company officials say they have since added safety personnel and that pipelines are still the most effective way to transport fuel.