The safety of our customers, employees and local communities is a top priority for National Fuel.
National Fuel has been building and operating natural gas pipelines for more than a century and continues to embrace a culture of “safety first.” As such, we plan maintenance efforts to meet or exceed targets established by our many regulators and invest tens of millions of dollars annually to improve the operation of our systems.
National Fuel places the highest priority on the safety of our customers and the communities we serve, every day of the year. From our call center representatives to construction and customer service personnel in the field, our employees are dedicated to delivering natural gas to our customers in a safe and efficient manner. National Fuel has a longstanding culture of safety that encourages continuous improvement of our performance, with demonstrated success in the following core areas of customer protection.
An effective leak management program is essential to ensure safety and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas leaks. Using accelerated and targeted leak surveys, our leak management program is designed to find and repair leaks before they can become a hazard. As a result of National Fuel’s accelerated pipeline replacement program discussed above and our comprehensive leak management program, we have been able to reduce year-end leak backlogs by more than 60% over the past five years.
It’s National Fuel’s belief that the most hazardous condition is the unknown condition, and that quick emergency response is critical to operating a safe utility system. We are continually evaluating our performance to ensure that we respond to all emergency calls in the shortest time possible and work to remove any impediments that could potentially slow down a first responder.
Our emergency response time is among the shortest for gas utilities in both New York and Pennsylvania. In 2021, National Fuel responded to over 96% of emergency calls in under 30 minutes throughout its New York service territory. In Pennsylvania, where our service territory is more rural than in New York, National Fuel responded to emergency calls within 45 minutes over 99% of the time.
National Fuel also utilizes remote-control valves in many of its pipelines to reduce response times for potential pipeline emergencies, with a particular focus on highly populated areas. When mainline valves are installed on large modernization projects or system expansions, those valves are equipped with capabilities that allow us to quickly cut off natural gas flows along a section of pipeline during an emergency situation.
While we cannot control the actions of all third-party excavators in our region, National Fuel dedicates significant resources to educate and train contractors, our customers and the general public on the importance of damage prevention and safe excavation practices through our 811—Call Before You Dig awareness campaign.
National Fuel averages approximately 170,000 requests for pipeline marking prior to excavation on an annual basis. As a result of our focus on public education and continuous improvement, National Fuel has achieved a 26% decrease in excavation damage rates over the last five years.
National Fuel also devotes considerable resources to leak patrol and surveillance of its high-pressure pipelines, both on the ground and in the air, to look for indications of leaks and encroachment activity by third parties.
Seneca Resources reinforces the goals of Environmental, Health, and Safety Mission, Vision, and Principles at every work site. In 2019, Seneca Resources employees only had one OSHA-recordable injury. Seneca Resources also continues to make significant progress in reducing preventable motor vehicle accidents. In 2019, Seneca Resources achieved a preventable motor vehicle accident rate of just 1.26 per 1,000,000 miles driven.
Safety is a guiding principle and our highest priority at National Fuel. It’s imperative that every employee and contractor return home safely each day.
Key Worker Programs and Initiatives
Across the company, we have implemented programs and management practices to ensure that a culture of safety is prioritized and embraced throughout the whole organization. These important initiatives include:
National Fuel’s workplace safety record has improved significantly over the last 10 years. We track and report safety incidents on a consolidated basis for our rate-regulated subsidiaries.
Seneca provides employees and contractors with training on near misses and regular communications to emphasize the importance of near miss reporting. In addition, safety communications highlighting significant near misses and lessons learned are shared.