Gas companies have known for decades that the US has aging gas lines. As old lines corrode, leaks form. Those leaks then accumulate to dangerous levels, essentially creating a time bomb in neighborhoods and workplaces.
There were quite a few gas-leak related disasters in 2021:
- Collin County Gas Explosion Kills 2, Injures 2
- Explosion at Dallas Apartment Complex Injures 8
- Plano Texas Explosion Injures 6, Levels Home
Gas companies, despite having billions in revenue, insist that they cannot repair aging lines in time. Some of them (like Atmos Energy) are on the S&P 500, which begs the question: when it comes to investing in safety, are gas companies beholden to their customers…or their shareholders?
Regardless of the answer, gas companies are responsible for maintaining their lines. Even if a leaking line never explodes, long-term exposure to a gas leak has serious consequences.
Gas Leak Illness Symptoms
Severe gas leaks have obvious symptoms, including headache, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. A major sign of gas leak illness is when virtually everyone in your house is reporting the same symptoms at the same time. However, low-level exposure over the course of days or weeks can also lead to serious problems.
It’s been suggested that long-term exposure to a gas leak leads to:
- Persistent headache when at home
- “Malaise” or general unwellness (at home)
- Recurring symptoms only when in the same location
The study of long-term gas leak impact is fairly new; we don’t know for certain if fixing a gas leak guarantees full recovery or not. That said, low oxygen can cause brain damage over time.
What Does a Gas Leak Smell Like?
For safety reasons, manufacturers add mercaptan to natural gas to give it a distinctive smell. Otherwise, natural gas would not have an odor. The smell of natural gas has sometimes been compared to sulfur, rotten eggs, or even sewage. If you smell any of those in your home (and you’ve ruled out trash cans or actual rotting food), you may want to get an inspection.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
There are other ways to detect a gas leak if your carbon monoxide alarm isn’t going off. For instance, if standing water has bubbles or a “cloud” in it, that’s a tell-tale sign of a gas leak. There are obvious signs if you know where to look—if you see visible damage to a gas line connection, for example. There are subtle signs as well, such as healthy house plants that seem to die overnight.
However, the surest sign of a gas leak are symptoms. If your household is experiencing simultaneous fatigue, headache, and dizziness, call the gas company to inspect your gas lines. The first to suffer from a gas leak will be pets, children, and anyone with pre-existing respiratory issues.
Arnold & Itkin: Natural Gas Accident Lawyers
In 2018, Atmos was found responsible for the death of a 12-year-old girl after a cracked gas line exploded in a Dallas neighborhood. The court ordered Atmos to replace all cast-iron gas lines in Dallas by the end of 2018; the company said they would get it done by the end of 2023. They finished replacing all cast-iron lines by November 2021, nearly 2 years earlier than projected.
The lesson: holding gas companies accountable is the best way to make our communities safer.
Our natural gas explosion lawyers have investigated gas line accidents of all kinds, both residential and industrial. Our experience with gas companies, industrial policy, and manufacturing flaws associated with old gas lines makes us the ideal investigator for your accident. If you experienced a severe gas leak or gas explosion, speak with us at (888) 493-1629 today for a free consultation.
Let’s discuss what happened to you and how we can help. Call (888) 493-1629 or contact us with our short online form.