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How to Recognize a Pipeline Leak and What Happens When it Bursts

Between 1994 and 2014, there have been more than 745 serious incidents involving gas pipelines and many more involving the distribution of oil.

Along with property damage, these incidents can also lead to serious injuries and fatalities. Since 1994 there have been more than three dozen fatalities caused by gas transmission. Knowing how to recognize a pipeline release can help prevent an explosion or pipeline rupture. A leak can be recognized in the following ways:


  • Pools of liquid
  • Discolored or abnormally dry soil/vegetation
  • Oily sheen on water surfaces
  • Dead or discolored plants


  • Hissing sound or loud roar depending on the size of the leak


  • An unusual smell or petroleum odor. Some companies provide sample cards that are sent to businesses or residences with samples of the odor they may smell should a leak occur.

What to Do If You Suspect a Pipeline Leak

If you believe that a pipeline near your home or business is leaking, make sure you turn off all of your appliances and leave the area by foot immediately. Although it might seem easier to turn on your vehicle, if the leak has been occurring for days it could trigger an explosion.

You can report a leak to 911, your local emergency response number or directly to the pipeline company. Do not attempt to operate any pipeline valves yourself.

If the event that a gas pipeline does burst, any open flame or cause of ignition such as an electrical switch or vehicle ignition could cause an explosion. If there is a fire, do not try to extinguish the fire, wait for emergency professionals who are trained to deal with such emergencies.

Getting yourself and your family to safety is of the utmost importance. If your property is damaged or you believe you have suffered injuries or illness due to a pipeline leak or explosion, contact an attorney at Simien & Simien to explore your legal options.

Contact us today at (800) 374-8422 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form.