October Aerial Photos of Liberty Materials Mine Show Evidence of Previous Breaches

Yesterday, I posted the results of a TCEQ investigation into the Liberty Materials sand mine in Conroe. TCEQ alleged that the mine discharged 56 million gallons of white milky pollution into the West Fork of the San Jacinto. They also found that a water sample taken at the mine contained almost 25X the normal level of dissolved solids. The report mentions four other recent investigations that resulted in citations for unauthorized discharges.

October Flyover Shows Other Discharges At Same Mine

Today, I reviewed aerial photos of the mine that I took on a flyover in October, before the alleged unauthorized discharge.

Note the color of water in two ponds at the Liberty site. All photos taken on 10/2/2019.
Mine in background and West Fork in foreground. Notice discharge despite attempt to plug leak.
Same breach from opposite angle
Another breach almost looks like it was designed to funnel water into the river.
In addition to the major breaches above, note a smaller breach here...
…and the water escaping from the pond alongside the road. Those pipes running along the river sure do make it hard for canoeists and kayakers to get downstream.

More Than a Dozen Discharges Seen on One Day

The TCEQ cited Liberty for 4 previous unauthorized discharges in the last 2.5 years. Had they visited the mine on October 2nd, they might have found that many violations in one day.

And these weren’t the only breaches I found that day. Counting those at other mines on the East and West Forks, TCEQ could have easily tallied another dozen violations on this one day.

Sad to say, this industry has an abysmal health and safety record.

To track the status of TCEQ cases near you, check out this section of their web site.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 2, 2019

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The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.