Northeast US scrambles for fuel as pumps dry up
By David Sheppard and Edward McAllister, Reuters
November 2, 2012, 11:40 am TWN
NEW YORK -- Drivers and homeowners scrambled to secure fuel for their cars and generators in the U.S. Northeast on Wednesday as storm-hit gasoline stations started to run dry.
More than half of all gasoline service stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut because of depleted fuel supplies and power outages, frustrating attempts to restore normal life, industry officials said.
Reports of long lines, dark stations and empty tanks circulated across the region. Some station owners were unable to pump fuel due to a lack of power, while others quickly ran their tanks dry because of increased demand and logistical problems in delivering fresh supplies.
The lack of working gasoline stations is likely to compound travel problems in the region, with the New York City subway system down until at least Thursday and overland rail and bus services severely disrupted.
Homeowners and businesses relying on back-up generators during the power cuts, including many Wall Street banks in lower Manhattan, may also run short of fuel.
"I don't have any lights and need this gasoline for my generator," said Abdul Rahim Anwar at a Getty service station in Gowanus, Brooklyn, as he put two full jerry cans into his trunk.
Tempers flared as a queue of at least 30 cars spilled down the street, with drivers blaring horns, shouting and getting out of their cars. Pump attendant Nadim Amid said the station had already run out of regular gasoline and only had a tiny amount of super unleaded and diesel left.
One driver, a doctor who asked not to be named, said she had driven all the way across New York City from New Jersey, where half of all businesses and homes are still without power. More than 80 percent of filling stations in the state were unable to sell gasoline as of Wednesday morning, said Sal Risalvato, head of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association.
"It's going to be an ugly few days until we can see both power and supplies restored," Risalvato said.
Gasoline stations on New York's Long Island and the city borough of Staten Island also reported shortages, while lengthy lines were seen in the borough of Queens. Commuters may see higher prices at the pumps in the coming days, though oil traders said that with so many people unable to buy gasoline it may eventually lead to a surplus in the region.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency temporarily waived clean gasoline requirements for 16 states on the eastern seaboard through Nov. 20 in a bid to help ease the supply crunch.
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