UPDATE: Tennessee looking into more than 600 price gouging compl - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Tennessee looking into more than 600 price gouging complaints, some in Hamilton County

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CHATTANOOGA -

UPDATE: The pipeline that ruptured in Alabama spilled around 6,000 barrels of fuel at one time.

Governor Bill Haslam issued a state of emergency on Friday along with reminding companies that price gouging is against the law.

A spokesman for the Department of Commerce and Insurance said price gouging situations are looked at on a case by case basis.

On Monday, the average price for a gallon of gas in Chattanooga was $2.20. A month ago, prices were cheaper by 35 cents a gallon.

Some drivers said the increases they're seeing are unfair.

"Some gas stations probably see an opportunity and decide to take advantage of it," Robin Bennett of Chattanooga.

So far, the state has received more than 600 complaints about gas prices in just few days. Most are in the Nashville area and only a few are from Hamilton County.

Tennessee's price gouging laws make it illegal to charge unreasonable prices for essential goods and services like gas during an emergency.

Midnite Oil's owner and operator, Steve Ray, who is out of gas said there's a reason for the jump.

"It has freight attached to it and of course, as consumers, we want our gas right now. We will sometimes pay for it to have it right now and not look for the best price," Steve Ray of Midnite Oil said.

Ray said some distributors are driving to Savannah to get gas and that's costing local retailers and customers more. It's why he's decided to hold off on buying more gas until the Alabama pipeline problem is fixed. 

"If this all clears up Thursday or Friday like it's supposed to, then I'd be stuck with a lot of gas at a high price and competing against people at $1.99," Ray said.

It's up to the Tennessee Attorney General's office to determine if a gas station is price gouging. Businesses could be fined up to $1,000 per violation among other consequences.

"At least it ain't $4 a gallon, that's what I keep telling myself. While I'm filling up," Hilary Robertson of Lafayette, Georgia.

If you believe a gas station is price gouging, you can file a complaint with the state.


UPDATE: The gas woes continue across the region. Fuel supplies in at least five states including Tennessee’s have been affected by a leak in Alabama.

Governor Bill Haslam declared a state of emergency on Friday.         

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Executive Officer Dean Flener tells Channel 3 this was in response to transportation waivers, not a shortage of fuel in the state.

“The supply that was lost from the pipeline issue is being made up by tanker trucks moving and transporting fuel in the state,” Flener said.

Worried about a shortage, drivers waited in long lines and filled up even when they didn't need it.

“What we have seen is an increased demand on our fuel supply that is putting pressure on retailers and convenience stores to keep fuel at the pumps,” Flener said.

TEMA estimates a 50% spike in fuel demand because drivers panicked, now some gas stations face fuel supply disruptions.

The state of emergency allows the state to bypass federal regulations on when fuel tankers are allowed to transport fuel.

“In this case it's really just a technicality to get us to be able to waive those hours for drivers so they have time to make deliveries to the pump,” Flener added.

Flener said the fuel level in the state is steady and Tennessee isn't dealing with widespread unavailability of fuel.

In Tennessee it is illegal to price gouge during a state of emergency. If you suspect a violation, you can report it visit Division of Consumer Affairs website.


PREVIOUS STORY: ATLANTA (AP) - Colonial Pipeline says it is beginning construction of a temporary pipeline that will bypass a leaking section of its main gasoline pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama.

According to AL.com (http://bit.ly/2cvk9ZU ), Colonial gave no timetable Saturday as to when that bypass line would be completed or what path it would take, according to

Fuel supplies in at least five states - Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas - were threatened by the spill, and the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered the company responsible to take corrective action before the fuel starts flowing again.

The company has acknowledged that between 252,000 gallons and 336,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from a pipeline near Helena, Alabama, since the spill was first detected Sept. 9. It's unclear when the spill actually started.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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