‘Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline,’ safety commission warns drivers amid fuel shortage

U.S. & World

Drivers fill their tanks at the Speedway in East Ridge, Tenn., on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The concern over the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has sparked lines at gas stations and empty pumps in the Chattanooga Area. (Matt Hamilton /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

(NEXSTAR) – As fuel stations in the East run out of gas amid panic-buying after cyber attackers hit the Colonial Pipeline on Friday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding drivers just how dangerous improperly stored gas can be.

“Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline,” the safety commission said in a tweet Wednesday. The reminder comes as images show desperate drivers lining up at the pumps and some hoarding containers full of gas.

The USCPSC urged users to only fill approved containers with gas and shared a video of what can happen when gas hits an open flame:

“We know this sounds simple, but when people get desperate they stop thinking clearly,” the USCPSC tweeted. “They take risks that can have deadly consequences. If you know someone who is thinking about bringing a container not meant for fuel to get gas, please let them know it’s dangerous.”

While there is currently no gasoline shortage because of the hack, government officials say, panic-buying has caused some stations to run out of fuel. If the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast, isn’t fully reopened by the weekend, analysts say the situation could deteriorate.

“We’re asking people not to hoard, and know that we are all over this,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday.

Workers were able to manually restart a large part of the pipeline on Monday, Granholm said, and Colonial Pipeline officials expect most operations to resume by the end of the week.

The governors of Virginia and North Carolina have declared a state of emergency as more gas stations run out of fuel. According to GasBuddy.com, as of Wednesday, 28% of North Carolina gas stations were out of fuel with another 17% in Virginia.

Multiple U.S. agencies are now working to provide alternate fuel transportation strategies, including allowing overweight loads of gasoline on interstate highways. The Department of Homeland Security will also be reviewing temporary waivers of the Jones Act, maritime law mandating that only American-flagged ships can move fuel and other shipments between U.S. ports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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