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Public Safety and 
Emergency Response

At Equitrans, we believe in safety — above all else, and protecting the public and our local communities is of the highest importance. Our goal is to operate our assets safely and responsibly, while also ensuring the public understands our operating practices and is aware of critical safety facts related to pipelines and natural gas.

An employee is standing next to pipeline equipment.

Protecting Our Communities

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Safety — above all else — includes protecting the public and our local communities. Our goal is to operate our assets safely and responsibly, while also ensuring the public understands our operating practices and is aware of critical safety facts related to pipelines and natural gas.

We frequently communicate with local communities near our operations to raise awareness of our activities, convey key safety information, and address any questions or concerns. One way we do this is by mailing an annual safety brochure to residents and businesses located near our pipelines to keep them informed of our operations. We also engage with local first responders, public works employees, elected officials, school districts, and other key community leaders. This engagement, which may occur in-person or virtually, involves informing them of our operational processes, providing pipeline-related educational resources, listening to their thoughts and feedback, and building relationships through group meetings, personal contact, and targeted distribution of print materials. A few examples of the topics we address include:

  • Activities occurring along relevant pipeline routes or at pipeline compressor station facilities
  • Types of equipment used at a particular site
  • Preventative measures taken to reduce potential hazards and ensure pipeline integrity
  • How to avoid right-of-way encroachments
  • How to identify pipeline leaks and the appropriate response to a leak
  • Equitrans’ emergency and crisis response plan
  • The appropriate community response for various incident scenarios

Our engagement helps to increase awareness of the presence of pipelines in local communities, our commitment to public safety, and the general role of pipelines in transporting energy. It is our goal to convey to the public that while pipeline accidents are possible, pipelines are a safe mode of energy transportation. We undertake strong measures to prevent pipeline accidents, and work to anticipate and plan for the management of accidents in the rare instance they occur. It is our belief that a well-informed public, particularly those who are near pipeline routes, enhances the safety measures we employ. Importantly, public awareness of nearby pipelines assists in minimizing the potential for pipeline emergencies or releases due to third-party damage or right-of-way encroachments.

One of the greatest challenges to safe pipeline operations is potential accidental damage caused by excavation, directional drilling, construction, farming activities, or homeowner activities. To ensure public safety, we urge stakeholders to utilize the “Call 811 Before You Dig” program is available across the United States. By calling 811 before digging, everyone can play an important part in protecting public safety by ensuring that a pipeline is not unintentionally damaged. The national program directly connects a caller to their state’s One Call Center where they can report their planned digging project. The One Call Center will then communicate this information to all local underground utilities that mark the locations of their pipelines on the property where the project is taking place. In our home state of Pennsylvania, we are directly involved in the Pennsylvania 811 Safety Day conference as a sponsor. The annual Safety Day provides safety education to the excavation and utility industries through hands-on demonstrations with tools and techniques, as well as discussions on new safety theories.

Public Awareness

Equitrans knows public education and outreach increases pipeline safety, as well as reduces the chance of third parties creating potential emergencies or accidental releases due to lack of understanding of our operations and right-of-way encroachments. Equitrans' Public Awareness Program works to raise public awareness of pipelines in our communities and improve stakeholders' knowledge about the function pipelines play in transporting energy. We have taken considerable measures to develop stakeholder brochures to identify audience demographics, to include affected public, emergency officials, public officials, excavators, and state One-Call Centers. We offer several communication channels to help stakeholders understand the steps they can take should a pipeline incident occur and to prevent pipeline events through the use of the state’s One Call System.  Stakeholder communications consist of: 

  • Pipeline awareness packets mailed to stakeholders
  • Business reply cards to measure the understanding of the content in the brochure;
  • In-person and webinar meetings
  • A self-paced online training platform for stakeholders to allow exposure to pipeline response training and damage prevention efforts (contracted consultant, Paradigm)
  • An Emergency Response Portal that provides operators with a secure, cost-effective location from which to publish and distribute their emergency response plans on a secure site to local emergency response officials (contracted consultant, Paradigm)

In an effort to provide operator training sessions to stakeholders during the pandemic, virtual meetings were held to convey the required information and provide effective stakeholder and operator participation. Though somewhat challenging, the virtual meetings were successful and were able to meet regulatory requirements. With the pandemic restrictions being lifted, we expect operator training sessions will be provided both in-person and virtually in 2022.

Equitrans employees are standing with a group of Finleyville first responders in front of a fire truck.

Evaluating Our Approach to Public Safety

We continuously evaluate the effectiveness of our approach to public safety awareness to verify that local communities near our pipelines are aware of the proximity of natural gas lines in their neighborhoods and to provide general safety information regarding natural gas pipeline operations. To do this, we utilize two evaluation methods: a third-party survey of local community members; and community group meetings hosted by third-party organizations.

Our telephone and postal surveys use a three-step approach to complete the evaluation process. The first step is the set-up, in which we design the survey with the intent to measure the scope of our public outreach and its effectiveness in conveying desired content, the clarity of the outreach content, and the content’s effect on desired safety awareness and behaviors. Next is the execution phase of the process when the surveys are conducted for selected local community members. During the execution phase, we target completing 400 surveys per identified audience to ensure we obtain a statistically significant sample. Last, during the reporting and analysis phase, we compile the survey results and complete a final report. This final report includes results for each survey question and the three intended measures of the survey outlined in the first step.

Our evaluation process for local community group meetings consists of two approaches. We first consider the people and organizations that attended each meeting to measure the scope of our public outreach and the effectiveness of the content we conveyed. Second, each person or organization that attends a meeting receives a survey card which includes questions regarding their knowledge of pipelines, their thoughts on the effectiveness of the meeting program, and the usefulness of the meeting program to their daily activities. Based upon the responses to these questions, we can measure the clarity of the outreach content, and the content’s effect on desired safety awareness and behaviors.

Leveraging the results of these evaluation methods allows us to make general changes to our public safety awareness programs, make changes to address specific issues, or continue with the programs as they currently exist, unless a significant decrease in effectiveness is apparent from the evaluation methods.

 

A man is welding a pipe segment.

Crisis Preparedness and Response

A crisis is defined as any situation that is critical and/or sensitive to the Company and, if not addressed or managed appropriately and promptly, could have an adverse impact on the Company’s operations, business, and reputation. A crisis may occur at any time, involve a single individual or many people, be inside or outside the Company, and/or be created by a sudden, tragic, dangerous, and/or volatile issue or event that demands quick action or by an emerging issue that is sustained and does not disappear after a short period. Crises come in many forms, including operational, natural disasters, and other man-made disasters. Regardless of the crisis, an appropriate and timely response is critical.

Equitrans recognizes that a crisis requires coordinated efforts for immediate response and corrective action. When executed correctly, an effective response serves to minimize risk and damage, emphasize safety, reduce internal and external confusion, and ensure appropriate information is conveyed to stakeholders as needed.

Crisis Management Plan

Equitrans’ Crisis Management Plan (Crisis Plan) is designed to provide an enterprise-wide management process and structure to enable appropriate levels of communications and response to major events or potential crisis situations. Equitrans’ Crisis Plan, which we require to be reviewed annually, is the key resource for the Company to effectively manage communications during a range of emergencies. The Plan is designed to manage and execute a crisis response, in line with the Company’s six “Crisis Incident Classifications,” which are categorized as follows:

  1. Operational – fires, explosions, accidents, serious injuries, fatalities, spills/discharges
  2. Security – criminal acts, workplace violence, landowner threats, protests
  3. Business/Financial – significant legal disputes, dramatic stock falls, activist shareholders, significant liquidity, credit or capital constraints, customer-related issues
  4. Information Technology – data loss, system failures, hacking or other cyberattacks or compromises of technology
  5. Regional / Industry – terrorism, natural disaster, industry and/or competitor-related incidents
  6. Health / Safety – pandemic, localized natural disaster, building closures, inclement weather

Equitrans has designated cross-functional crisis management teams (CMTs) and incident commanders that are activated, in accordance with the Crisis Plan, in response to crises. The Crisis Plan outlines roles and responsibilities, courses of action, delegated authorities, and instructions for various CMT members, as well as communication protocols. In the event of a crisis, the incident commander is responsible for leading the crisis response effort and coordinates with executive management team members who provide overall executive level oversight with respect to the crisis and are responsible for ensuring that the Company’s Board of Directors is timely apprised of the crisis and related material developments.

As part of our initial approach to a crisis, an alert will be sent out to internal affected parties through the Company’s electronic alert system, or other methods, as appropriate. We also seek to coordinate with appropriate first responders, government agencies, and elected officials in emergencies.

In addition to the Crisis Plan, Equitrans maintains specific incident response plans to be referenced in the event of a certain type of crisis (e.g., in respect of spills or incidents at compressor or dehydration stations). These specific incident response plans provide guidance regarding, for example and as applicable, operational matters, and roles and responsibilities specific to the type of crisis.

Preparation Is Critical

Adequate preparation is critical for taking quick and effective action during an emergency response. We conduct regular crisis drills and routinely review crisis plans to ensure we are prepared in the event of an emergency. We conduct training sessions for our incident commanders and crisis coordinators to provide updates on our processes and procedures, reinforce existing protocols, and further prepare for potential incidents and crisis events. Additionally, following an incident, Equitrans pursues a reporting and analysis debrief to identify any safety gaps or further precautionary measures that should be evaluated for implementation. Equitrans also evaluates its designations of CMT personnel on a quarterly basis to ensure appropriate CMT staffing and to verify CMT contact information.

Externally, Equitrans routinely meets with local first responders to inform them of our work, discuss coordination, provide trainings, and educate them regarding midstream industry crisis management strategies. Equitrans also offers follow-up training sessions to first responders on an annual basis, and we offer firefighters tours of our facilities. We often donate to first responder organizations in our local communities to enhance capabilities, increase safety preparedness, and strengthen our relationships.

Additionally, Equitrans reaches out to landowners and homeowners located along a pipeline right-of-way or near our facilities to inform them of the potential risks our operations could have on nearby homes and to review evacuation plans in case of an emergency. Equitrans provides its hotline number to nearby landowners or homeowners, as well as important contact information for local emergency responders. By keeping local community members informed of our practices, Equitrans demonstrates that safety is our number one priority and is a fundamental requirement for our assets to operate at high standards of integrity.

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Protecting Our Critical Energy Infrastructure

With cyber-attacks on the rise in nearly every industry sector, including those related to oil/gas pipelines, there is a heightened need for teamwork and collaboration to protect our nation’s energy infrastructure. We recognize the important joint efforts of pipeline operators, government agencies, vendors, and industry groups in developing solutions to combat the complex challenges of an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. The formation of this alliance is based on a common goal: keeping our critical infrastructure safe, secure, and reliable.

To ensure adequate resources and elevate the criticality of our industry’s cyber initiatives, Chief Executive Officers and Chief Information Officers from our nation’s major pipeline operators, as well as top leaders from various government agencies are aligned on this priority. In addition, with this level of attention and focus on cybersecurity, responsibility has gone beyond Information Technology personnel. To be truly effective, cybersecurity requires multi-disciplinary leadership involvement from other business functions, such as physical security, emergency management, facilities, legal, and supply chain.

As a natural gas pipeline operator, Equitrans Midstream transports roughly 10% of U.S. natural gas production every day, making it critical for us to know and understand the latest threat intelligence. With the knowledge gained through these industry and government relationships, we are better prepared to implement leading practices designed to counter evolving attack vectors.

At Equitrans Midstream, we believe forming a cybersecurity partnership has helped raise the security bar across the industry, resulting in a collective benefit that is beyond what any individual pipeline operator could achieve. By working together on cybersecurity initiatives, we are striving to make the natural gas pipeline sector more secure, while at the same time continuing to provide the critical energy resources on which our nation relies.

     – Carmine Fantini, CIO, Equitrans Midstream

The continued evolution of cybersecurity threats demands a holistic response from industry, government, and suppliers. Equitrans recognizes this reality, and we work diligently every day to enhance our strong public/private sector alliance — strengthening our capabilities to protect our critical energy infrastructure.

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Emergency Response and Preparedness

In August 2021, flammable vapors from a tank vent ignited during a late afternoon electrical storm at the Equitrans Twilight Compressor Station, a natural gas gathering facility located in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Upon notification of the incident, the Equitrans crisis team quickly convened — no injuries were reported, and no significant damage occurred. 

As part of our response, Equitrans technicians were immediately dispatched and, once on site, began to implement necessary safety procedures, including the closing of appropriate valves to isolate the tank. In addition, the local volunteer fire department was on site to assist with appropriate fire safety protocols.

Equitrans’ emergency procedures and closing of valves successfully allowed the flame to self-extinguish, and within a short time the tank was fully isolated. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified, and, as a courtesy, local township officials and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission received notification of the incident.

Working together with the crisis team, our operations, safety, and compliance teams determined that the ignition occurred as a result of a lightning strike that ignited vapors from a malfunctioning tank vent. After reviewing and understanding the cause of the incident, operations worked with engineering to identify and inspect similar tank vents, as well as tank grounding, to minimize the risk of similar incidents from occurring in the future.

For more information on Equitrans Emergency Response and Preparedness, please visit: Public Safety and Emergency Response.

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Distracted Driving Awareness

Distracted driving is an important safety issue — whether we are traveling for work or transporting friends and family during our personal time. The tragic results of distracted driving can happen to any one of us, anywhere, and at any time. Furthermore, these distractions come in many forms and can be caused by a number of factors, such as driving while using a communications device, tending to others who are in the vehicle, using your vehicle’s audio system, or simply observing scenery as we pass it on the road. 

 In response to an increase in preventable vehicle accidents in 2020, Equitrans’ safety team created a Safe Driving Stand-Up, whereby supervisors were tasked with encouraging their teams to focus on changing their driving behaviors to better ensure everyone’s safety. In 2021, we placed additional emphasis on vehicle driving safety through our Companywide Distracted Driving Awareness initiative, which included encouraging employees to sign a distracted driving pledge as a symbol of their commitment to drive safely, be in the moment, and remain focused on the task-at-hand.

With more than 500 employees in attendance, Equitrans’ Distracted Driving Awareness campaign kicked off with a presentation by Joel Feldman, renowned distracted driver speaker. Mr. Feldman is an attorney from Philadelphia who, despite representing those impacted by distracted driving crashes, frequently drove distracted himself. Following the death of his daughter in an accident caused by a distracted driver, he changed the way he drives and the way he thinks about driving safety. In 2011, he founded EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving) and spends the majority of his professional time working to educate people about this issue — with the goal to reduce distracted driving incidents of all kinds.

Mr. Feldman shared some very powerful and personal messaging, along with several important reminders that focused on how to change driving behaviors to better ensure one’s personal safety, the safety of their passengers, as well as the safety of everyone on the road. In addition, the Equitrans Midstream Foundation expanded these important safe driving messages by partnering with EndDD to bring Mr. Feldman’s presentation to four local high schools in our Pennsylvania operating area.

In 2022, our Foundation is pleased to continue its partnership with EndDD by supporting the creation of a nationwide public service campaign geared toward preventing distracted driving among high school students.

Equitrans believes that having a safe-driving mindset should extend beyond the workplace, and we want our employees to be equipped to prevent distractions while driving for both work and personal travel. With safety as our top priority and number one Core Value, the more we share the importance of learning how to NOT DRIVE DISTRACTED, the safer all of us will be.

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Philanthropy and Volunteerism

Equitrans Midstream supports the development of a sustainable workforce, which we believe is a key element for the long-term success of our Company and our communities. Preparing local students to compete in the workforce is a funding priority of the Equitrans Midstream Foundation — connecting students now with the tools they need to make positive social and economic contributions in the future. Through our E-Train On-Track committee, we also support employee volunteerism and encourage employees to donate their time in support of community-based educational initiatives. 

The Education Partnership is a local non-profit organization that distributes school and classroom supplies at no cost to students and teachers in need. When the organization approached us with an opportunity to provide assistance and support for Pennsylvania schools, ranging from pre-K through grade 12, we enthusiastically volunteered both our funding and time. In 2021, through a $32,000 grant to The Education Partnership’s Adopt-a-School program, the Equitrans Midstream Foundation purchased essential school supplies for students in three southwestern Pennsylvania schools. Using our Volunteer Paid-Time-Off Program, these funds were amplified by Equitrans employees who volunteered their time to assemble more than 1,230 Power Tools Homework Kits for distribution to the students. A team of employees then attended assemblies at one of the participating high schools to conduct mini-educational sessions to discuss jobs and careers in the energy industry.

During the past two years, the Foundation has awarded $50,000 to The Education Partnership. By combining proposed funding opportunities with employee volunteerism, Equitrans can provide a greater level of community support, while at the same time encouraging employee involvement and increasing overall engagement. Our work with The Education Partnership is one example of Equitrans’ commitment to the communities in which we live and work — delivering positive impacts through both financial support and employee volunteerism. 

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Storage Integrity Management

To fulfill specific regulatory obligations by government agencies, Equitrans conducts annual audits and inspections required by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and respective state agencies that oversee pipelines and related facilities. To reinforce the importance of public safety, in recent years PHMSA has conducted focused audits on Storage Integrity Management programs. These very intense, detailed audits emphasize both public safety and the environmental impacts of storage methane release. Among other benefits to the industry, this level of scrutiny provides an opportunity for natural gas pipeline operators to review, improve, and strengthen their programs.

Under PHMSA’s direction, Equitrans conducted numerous storage audits from 2018 through 2021 to gauge the strength of our Storage Integrity Management Plan (SIMP) and its adherence to published code. While there were no penalties assessed as a result of these audit activities, Equitrans did receive varying degrees of citations (i.e., Letters of Concern, Warning Letters, and Notices of Amendment) that required us to update our plans, policies, and procedures to enhance our SIMP.

In addition to addressing all cited deficiencies to improve the SIMP, Equitrans instituted the following enhancements to its storage operations:

  • Mitigation of risk by increasing the frequency of well-surveillance logging to every seven years, versus the previous schedule of every 15 years
  • Utilization of Remote Terminal Units on storage wells for 24-hour monitoring by gas control
  • Development and implementation of storage-specific procedures to standardize storage maintenance and operations activities across the Company
  • Dedicating personnel trained specifically for storage operations

As with all of Equitrans’ pipeline integrity programs, our primary focus is on safety — above all else — for our communities, employees, and pipeline facilities. The continued and enhanced safe operation of our storage assets is merely an extension of Equitrans’ overall commitment to safety.

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Workplace Modernization

Recognizing the potential benefits of a flexible work model, Equitrans conducted a workplace modernization survey in June 2020, whereby office-based employees were asked to rank their workplace preferences based on a set of three “workplace personas” (anchor, flex, and remote). The next step in the process was for managers to review all positions in their departments and assign a workplace persona, or personas, to each position, based on the defined requirements of role. The final step was for employees to select their workplace persona based on the persona(s) assigned to their role.

Our workplace modernization activities, however, did not end there. As we and other companies prepared for the new normal of a larger remote workforce, E-Train recognized there would be concerns to address and conflicts to resolve — and our goal was to ensure a smooth transition as overall workplace plans were finalized. To replace our previous Telecommuting Policy, we implemented a new Workplace Modernization Policy, which includes topics such as workplace persona guidelines, relocation approval process, business travel expense protocol, and how to formally request a workplace persona assignment change.

Additionally, to assist our employees with changes related to our return-to-office (RTO), we communicated workspace scheduling information and general tax expectations (for remote employees), and created two RTO Guides:

  • The RTO Guide for Managers was intended to help managers prepare for working with their teams in the new era of a “distributed environment.” The guide contains key details for managing successfully in a distributed environment, including tips for utilizing shared workspaces; how to determine when it may be most effective for a manager and their team to work in the office; and how a manager can partner with their team to establish best practices and facilitate a collaborative and engaging working environment — ensuring continued performance in line with our Core Value of Excellence. Managers were asked to maintain an inclusive, forward-thinking environment that values the person as a whole instead of focusing on only the work that they produce and were reminded to always place safety first.
  • The RTO Guide for Employees contained FAQs about workplace personas; tips and recommended etiquette for working in a shared workspace; how to determine when it may be most effective to work in the office; best practices to ensure success; and the importance of keeping safety our top priority.

With the reopening of our offices in April 2022, roughly 61% of office-based employees are working remotely (remote persona), 37% split their time between remote and at an Equitrans location (flex persona), and 2% are working in the office full-time (anchor persona). We expect our workplace modernization model to improve employee satisfaction and retention, expand our talent pool, and create additional flexibility for our employees, while promoting continued business execution.  

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Culture Change Belongs to All of Us

Our goal is to create a workforce culture that is not only aligned with our values, but also inspires employees to be their best selves. Based on the findings of our initial culture assessment conducted in 2020, we implemented several culture enhancing initiatives that were aligned with our mission, vision, and strategy — including redesigning our employee recognition program, introducing 360-degree management assessments and coaching, and launching an on-demand learning platform.

In 2021, we conducted our second culture survey, which had a 78% participation rate and highlighted significant, double-digit percentile increases across all 48 culture survey questions. In conjunction with our Culture Champions Group, we attribute these culture score improvements to the many action items we implemented since conducting our previous assessment.

The survey platform we utilize measures organizations across four areas: Mission, Consistency, Involvement, and Adaptability. While we were encouraged by the results, we also recognize there are areas that require continued focus to improve our culture. Below are a few key highlights from our recent survey:

Leveraging Our Strengths

  • We are very strong in the areas of teamwork and agreement — illustrating strong coordination across departments, the elimination of silos, and alignment with our Core Values, which highlights a strong sense of right and wrong.
  • We had positive shifts in how we use our Core Values to guide our decisions & the perceptions of leaders who demonstrate these values.
  • We scored near the 95th percentile on most of the safety aspects, something we are very proud of as we continue to elevate our strong safety culture.

Taking Action

Based on the opportunities for improvement, we are implementing several action items that are linked to three primary focus areas:

  • Customer Focus: The best way to define Customer Focus is with a question — “When we get a request from a fellow employee, do we treat that request as if it came from a customer?” The success of our Company depends on all employees — from maintaining safe operations, ensuring system reliability, and designing system enhancements to closing our books, scheduling projects, running payroll, and managing our legal and regulatory concerns. As we strive to be a reliable partner inside and out, in 2022 we added customer service to our Core Value of Collaboration; and we are implementing initiatives to improve our internal customer service and ensure the timely exchange of information requests.
  • Strategic Direction & Intent: Employees understand the importance of connecting the dots between our strategy and their day-to-day work. Based on survey feedback, we will continue to publish our quarterly Strategic Priorities Update and schedule all-employee meetings to communicate progress on our Company’s annual priorities and objectives, which helps employees to align their individual objectives. Achieving our Company goals takes teamwork, collaboration, and individual contributions by everyone.
  • Capability Development: As people leaders, we want to take a more active role in the development of our employees, helping them to understand and explore opportunities for advancement. To support our managers, we rolled out training during 2022 to assist managers in having effective career conversations with employees, encouraging an open dialogue on opportunities for growth and skill development. We also updated our Core Value of Excellence to include employee capability development — reinforcing the importance of helping to improve the capabilities of our employees as a competitive advantage. 

At Equitrans, culture change belongs to all of us, and each employee plays a vital role in achieving our vision of becoming the premier midstream company in North America. Our employees’ continued commitment to E-Train’s success is demonstrated by staying the course — effectively managing our business and running our operations safely, efficiently, and responsibly.

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