A flyover of the Triple PG mine in Porter revealed that the operator started mining right next to five pipelines carrying highly-volatile liquids (HVL). Previously, Triple PG mined next to a Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline. Headward erosion subsequently exposed the pipeline during Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. Another storm could do to the HVL pipelines what those did to Kinder Morgan’s.
Now, the Triple PG mine is mining next to the five pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids. They include pipelines operated by Plains, Enterprise and Mustang.
Railroad Commission Map Shows Location of Pipelines
Note Caney Creek meandering to the right of the mine in the satellite image above. When the creek came out of its banks during Harvey and Imelda, it eroded that huge gash you see between the pipelines.
Recent Photo Shows Proximity of Mining to Pipelines
As you can see in the photo below, Triple PG is now mining that same area. It is excavating sand less than a tree’s width from the HVL pipelines. In the next big flood, that will make them susceptible to the same kind of erosion that exposed the natural gas pipeline in the last floods.
Similar Problems Further Up the Pipeline at Another Mine Show Danger
Further up this same pipeline corridor toward Conroe, here’s what happened at the LMI River Bend mine.
If a similar disaster happened at the Triple PG mine and the pipelines ruptured, there would be little to keep the liquids in them from contaminating Lake Houston, the source of drinking water for 2 million people.
The Triple PG mine has a long history of questionable environmental practices. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has repeatedly cited the company for illegal discharges of industrial waste water. In 2019, the TCEQ referred the case to the Texas Attorney General for prosecution.
AG Lawsuit Stuck in Slow-Motion COVID Mode
Not much has happened in the lawsuit since then. Shortly after the AG filed the lawsuit, the Guniganti family, which owns the mine, tried to play a shell game with ownership, causing the AG to file an amended petition. Then the Gunigantis hired a new operator which also has a dubious history of compliance with the environmental regulations. The operator is Sumaiah Kurre, of Texas Frac Sand Materials Inc. at 1367 Woodcrest Drive, Houston, TX 77018.
The Texas Secretary of State lists Kurre’s name 47 times in the Texas SOS-Direct database. His name is associated with sixteen different entities in multiple capacities. Many of the entities have lost their right to do business in Texas.
Craig Pritzlaff, TCEQ’s director of Compliance and Enforcement, says the COVID crisis delayed an already complicated case, but neither the Commission, nor the AG have abandoned it. In fact, he said, the TCEQ flew over the mine today. Hopefully, a judge will hear the case soon. This case dramatizes the need for the legislature to adopt best practices for sand mining that provide better protection to the public.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/19/2021
1420 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 669 since Imelda
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.