Environmental
Spills

Why It Matters to Us

103-1
Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

103-1

In addition to impacting the environment, spills can adversely impact our landowner partners and lead to environmental fines, remediation costs, operational delays, and reputational risk. We recognize stakeholder concerns regarding the substances involved in a spill and work diligently to avoid spills and mitigate the potential impacts on human and environmental health when a spill occurs.

What We Are Doing

103-2
The management approach and its components

103-2

We are committed to preventing spills to protect people, the environment, and our business. We take our approach to preventing and managing spills seriously by seeking to meet or exceed all local, state, and federal policies. If a spill does occur, we seek to ensure a timely and effective response. We outline all expectations related to spills to our employees and business partners in our Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Management System.

Governance

Our EHS team reports to our Vice President, EHS and oversees our compliance, spill prevention, and response activities. A member of this team and two backup individuals are available at all times to receive calls in the event of a spill. Our Vice President, EHS reports information on spills to the Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors on a quarterly basis and to our Environmental, Social, and Governance Committee on a periodic basis. In 2021, we combined our Environmental team and our Safety team to form a unified EHS team allowing us to have additional employees covering a smaller field area, increasing our field presence throughout our operating area.

Spill Prevention

To reduce the likelihood and impact of significant spills, we maintain Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans for every worksite that stores fluid. These comprehensive plans, based on regulations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, guide our employees and contractors to minimize the chance for a release and to dictate the actions required should a spill occur. The plans define training programs, inspection protocols, secondary containment monitoring, and repair programs required at each natural gas well and compressor station.

We deploy targeted strategies at each stage of our operations to prevent spills. We implement measures to monitor the risk of a spill and to detect potential equipment failures, including installing pressure sensors and conducting onsite inspections. Our third-party inspectors look for and identify open or closed pad drains during operations and create a corrective action when applicable. In 2021, we partially placed in service a new produced water infrastructure system used to transport and store water for our operations. We perform daily walks and inspections on the water system to ensure proper functionality and that there are no issues that electronic monitoring equipment may have missed. For additional details, please see Water. We pay special attention to managing wastewater from our operations during production. The completion phase of our operations presents a risk for potential leaks due to the large volume of water onsite. To manage these risks, we deploy ongoing monitoring activities and use specialized spill containment and leak prevention equipment to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.

We hold our employees and contractors to high standards for spill prevention. We want everyone working on our behalf to take spill prevention seriously and we continuously work to improve the training we provide related to managing spills. Our primary EHS program promotes an overall culture of safety including in spill prevention through Family, Obligation, Communication, Understanding, and Support. In addition to the annual EHS training required by all personnel before working at one of our locations, we require all of our business partners to complete spill-specific training through our contractor management portal. This training covers methods to prevent, identify, contain, report, and safely control any releases encountered while working on EQT property. For additional details, please see Occupational Health and Safety.

 Spill Response

When a spill is reported, we request photos and videos to immediately determine the magnitude of the spill so that our Remediation team can promptly investigate the incident and determine an appropriate response. We strive to achieve a two-hour response time from our professional remediation company, regardless of the spill size. The Local Government and Community Affairs team is notified of every spill over 5 gallons. The team uses experience from training and input from the EHS team to determine the potential impact and associated procedure for notification to the municipality and surrounding neighbors.

In the event of a spill, we use appropriate cleanup techniques to mitigate the spill’s effects, including removal of effluents from soil. We promptly remove and dispose of cleanup materials according to applicable federal, state, and local regulatory requirements to minimize the impact on the environment and local community. We then evaluate the cause of the spill to identify and implement corrective action. We work to prevent repeat accidents by integrating improved techniques and protocols into design standards, operations, and future spill prevention plans. We share these with employees and contractors to continuously improve our operations.

Our emergency response and preparedness program requires the following actions in the event of an incident:

  • Determine the source and type of spill and begin taking corrective action;
  • Evacuate any employees requiring medical attention;
  • Isolate the area and stop the spill as soon as possible using appropriate methods;
  • Contain the spill with available resources — including containment ditches, diking, and spill kits complete with absorbent booms, pads, pillows, and personal protective equipment (we do not use chemical dispersants);
  • Report the spill through our Emergency Hotline, which notifies the relevant EHS Coordinator to determine appropriate remediation actions; and
  • Perform, or observe, proper cleanup measures as directed by the EHS Coordinator.

As part of our company policy, we hire professional service contractors to manage all spills associated with our operations. Our EHS Handbook describes our formal spill prevention and mitigation expectations — including guidance on using and maintaining secondary containment to prevent spills, regularly inspecting equipment, reporting all spills to our Emergency Dispatch Center, and using a spill kit. We also follow up with contractors involved in a spill to better understand the incident and discuss our expectations. Our EHS team meets weekly with our Production Engineering team to review and identify leading indicators for potential spills from the prior week. This review process helps us identify changes in processes to reduce spill numbers and volumes. For each incident, we have a Significant Incident Review meeting to discuss what happened, why it happened, and how we will prevent a similar future occurrence. We then share these findings with other operations and business partners to prevent future occurrences.

Utilizing our digital work environment, we generate dedicated spill reports to notify appropriate personnel of a spill and to provide our professional remediation contractors with access to these reports. This enables contractors to upload status updates and appropriate documentation into one centralized system, allowing for more cohesive tracking and reporting of spills. This centralized system allows multiple departments, operational groups, support groups, and business partners to be informed from the time an incident is first reported through the corrective action and closure.

During quarterly meetings with our contractors, we provide examples of real-life incidents to help prevent future spills. In 2021, we gathered more than 1,000 attendees for a virtual EHS Summit where we discussed incidents and lessons learned and fielded questions from those in attendance. Our Chief Executive Officer presented at the conference and leadership from each of our operational groups attended. As we were unable to return to in-person training in 2021 due to COVID, we maintained our focus on computer-based training and focused specifically on SPCC and our spill policies and procedures. The SPCC training was deployed to employees — while the spill policy training was deployed to, and completed by, over 4,300 employees and business partners.

How We Are Doing

103-3
Evaluation of the management approach

306-3
Significant spills

SASB EM-EP-160a.2
Number and aggregate volume of hydrocarbon spills, volume in Arctic, volume impacting shorelines with ESI rankings 8-10, and volume recovered

103-3
306-3
SASB EM-EP-160a.2

We continually work to improve our process for managing spills. Members of our EHS team periodically perform proactive environmental inspections on all of our well sites. Our EHS team performed 2,160 proactive inspections in 2021. We widely distribute our hotline number for reporting spills and strongly emphasize spill reporting regardless of size or quantity — even down to the size of a quarter. We also continue to require water haulers to obtain water from cellars and secondary containment before accessing produced water tanks. Doing so ensures that our cellars and containments are proactively managed, reducing the number of separate dispatches needed from water trucks to manage fluid levels. This procedure has led to a significant decrease in secondary containment compliance violations. From an SPCC standpoint, secondary containment must be able to hold 110% of the volume of the containment — including rain, snow, or storm water input.

We also host a quarterly roundtable to discuss a broad set of topics, including spill performance. We invite our peers in the Appalachian Basin to participate in the roundtable events to discuss key topics such as equipment failures and process improvements. In 2021, we held four roundtable discussions — all socially distanced in an outdoor setting.

While our number of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon spills decreased in 2021 compared to 2020, our volume of non-hydrocarbon releases increased substantially in 2021 due to a subsurface produced water leak associated with a Gas Processing Unit (GPU) disposal line at one of our well pad sites located in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which we discovered in December 2021.

Site characterization of the release is currently ongoing.  Our initial findings show that, due to the age of the wells, the released produced water contained only elevated levels of chlorides, with no evidence of other fracturing chemicals. As a result, while some vegetation and aquatic life may have been impacted, initial tests suggest that these impacts, if any, were minor.  This lack of distressed vegetation around the site and subsurface nature of the release impacted our ability to identify the release through earlier on-site inspection.

The primary impacted water sources were water wells, with one well being used for drinking water and the remainder of the wells being used for non-drinking water purposes such as gardening and other recreational uses. With respect to the household whose drinking water source was impacted, we arranged for the household to receive municipal water.

Upon discovering the release, we immediately initiated a process to determine the source of the release and the cause of the GPU disposal line leak. We also conducted an assessment of our well pad designs and tested other sites to ensure that there was not a flaw in our well pad designs or drilling processes. Based on this analysis, it was determined that this was an isolated incident and none of our other sites are at risk of a similar incident occurring.  Furthermore, unrelated and prior to the identification of the release, we developed a proprietary monitoring technology to detect unexpected variances in produced water volumes that we believe would have flagged this release had it been in place at the time of the initial variance.

We self-reported the release to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and are continuing to work cooperatively with PADEP to complete a thorough assessment of this matter. We intend to initiate remediation of the impacted area according to PADEP guidelines.

 We do not operate in the Arctic and, therefore, we had no spills that impacted the Arctic or shorelines with Environmentally Sensitive Index rankings 8 to 10.

Reportable Spills Resulting in a Release[1]

 

2019

2020

2021

 

#

BOE

#

BOE

#

BOE

Hydrocarbon release >1 barrels of oil (BBL; 1 BOE)

4

65

3

156

1

4

Non-hydrocarbon releases >1 BBL (1 BOE)

8

59

23

212

12

23,485

Total spills resulting in release >1 BBL (1 BOE)

12

123

26

368

13

23,489

Total hydrocarbon spills

13

68

8

158

7

6

Total non-hydrocarbon spills

57

131

82

228

61

23,506

Total Spills Resulting in Release

70

199

90

386

68

23,512

[1] Includes reportable spills and volumes outside containment.

Close button for share
SHARE