Colonial Pipeline

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The Colonial Pipeline is a double pipeline that supplies gasoline and other refined petroleum products from the Gulf Coast to distribution points across the Eastern United States. The primary pipeline carries 1.3 million barrels per day, or as much as 40-50% of all refined gasoline sold on the East Coast.

The pipeline originates in the vicinity Houston, Texas. It crosses into Alabama from Mississippi in Sumter County near Paynesville, continues west by northwest through the southern part of the Birmingham area, and then crosses into Georgia from Cleburne County via Anniston and Heflin.

The pipeline is owned and operated by the Colonial Pipeline Company of Alpharetta, Georgia. It's development began in 1962 as a joint venture between several large petroleum companies. The ownership of the company currently consists of Koch Industries (28%), South Korea's National Pension Service / Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (23%), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (17%), Royal Dutch Shell (16%), and Industry Funds Management (16%).


The pipeline was affected by two major incidents in the fall of 2016. On September 9 about 250,000 to 340,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from a rupture in the pipeline, triggering gas shortages in parts of the Southeast until a 500-foot by-pass was installed to restore service. On October 31 a major explosion and fire took place at a point about 5.5 miles west of the earlier leak, off of Shelby County Highway 13 at River Road west of Helena.

The explosion occurred when a crew from subcontractor L. E. Bell Construction was working to drain the pipeline in preparation for a long-term repair of the earlier leak. The explosion occurred when the crew struck the pipeline with a track hoe. Nine workers were injured, with seven airlifted to UAB Hospital. Anthony Willingham died at the site of the blast and a second worker died later of his wounds. The fire burned overnight, fueling a wildfire that burned about 31 acres of drought-stricken forest before it was contained with earthen dams. The repaired pipeline was returned to service early on Sunday, November 6.

In December 2017 some landowners sued the pipeline for lost income from their property, alleging that the company failed to repair damage and remove pollution from the explosion. Willingham's widow named the pipeline and another contractor in a wrongful death suit she filed in 2018.


Sumter County

Hale County

Tuscaloosa County

Shelby County

Talladega County

Calhoun County

Cleburne County

  • crosses into Cleburne County at Highland Lakes Boulevard
  • exits the Talladega National Forest just south of I-20 near mile marker 199
  • pump station on Cleburne County Highway 46 just north of I-20 Exit 205
  • crosses Cleburne County Highway 66 and the Tallapoosa River just north Cleburne County Highway 408
  • crosses Cleburne County Highway 49 just north of Kemp Creek and south of Lebanon
  • crosses into Haralson County, Georgia about 1 mile north of I-20

See also


  • "Colonial Pipeline" (September 20, 2016) Wikipedia, accessed October 31, 2016
  • Pillion, Dennis (November 1, 2016) "Alabama gasoline pipeline explosion: What we know today." The Birmingham News
  • Sheets, Connor (November 1, 2016) "Colonial says Alabama pipeline explosion 'related' to September gas leak." The Birmingham News
  • Pillion, Dennis (November 6, 2016) "Colonial Pipeline restarts 6 days after explosion." The Birmingham News
  • Pillion, Dennis (October 31, 2017) "One year after deadly explosion, Colonial Pipeline 'refocused' on safety." The Birmingham News
  • Sheets, Connor (December 17, 2017) "Landowners sue Colonial Pipeline, claim it did 'nothing' to fix land contaminated in 2016 explosion." The Birmingham News

External links