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A video based method to detect volatile organic compounds (VOC) leaking out of process equipments used in petrochemical refineries is developed. Leaking VOC plume from a damaged component causes edges present in image frames loose their sharpness. This leads to a decrease in the high frequency content of the image. The background of the scene is estimated and decrease of high frequency energy of the scene is monitored using the spatial wavelet transforms of the current and the background images. Plume regions in image frames are analyzed in low-band sub-images, as well. Image frames are compared with their corresponding low- band images. A maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) for adaptive threshold estimation is also developed in this paper.