LMI River Road Mine

Pipeline Repairs at LMI River Road Mine Need More Repair

In December 2019, I wrote about five HVL pipelines in a utility corridor crossing the LMI River Bend Mine on the San Jacinto West Fork. Erosion had undermined them badly, causing them to sag like clotheslines, as water moved toward the West Fork from one part of the mine to another.

December 2019. Pipelines exposed by erosion at LMI River Road Mine.

Readers filed complaints with the Mine Safety Administration. And soon, contractors started working on “a fix” for the problem, which had lingered for years. Repairs began in January. Then, in March 2020, I wrote about about completion of the repairs.

March 2020. Repairs included the installation of two culverts under pipelines and a concrete swale on top of the culverts.

The Warning Two Years Ago

But after looking at all the sediment spewing from the culverts, I warned that “one has to worry about them becoming clogged with sand and silt.” Below, see what the area below outfall looked like at the time.

LMI River Road Mine
At the time I captioned this image with “A big issue in the future may be sediment clogging the culverts.

Today, Culverts Almost Totally Blocked

Today, the culverts look like this (see below). I took the images below on 7/22/22.

Culverts’ intakes almost totally blocked by sediment. Mine has not maintained them. Water flows from part of the mine on the left to another part on right.

Below, see how the culvert outfalls have also become clogged.

Outfall on West Fork side of culverts.
Wider shot. Note how more erosion is beginning on either side of the concrete repairs.

Repeat of Headward Erosion

The shot above illustrates the same type of headward erosion that started causing the safety problem in 2014.

LMI River Road Mine headward erosion through utility corridor
Satellite image of same area from April 2014

Is There A Long-Term Fix?

Short of maintaining one’s property to protect public safety, I’m not sure what the long-term solution is. In my opinion, the first obligation of these mines should be public safety. But that often seems like an afterthought.

Neighbors tell me that this mine no longer operates every day. Perhaps the owner, Liberty Materials Inc., is experiencing reduced demand for its product due to economic conditions.

Regardless of the reason, this problem illustrates the need for the TCEQ to stiffen abandonment procedures for sand mines. The thought of those pipelines rupturing highly volatile liquids during a future flood scares me. It should scare anyone who lives along the San Jacinto. What will happen when LMI is no longer here to maintain those culverts?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/1/2022

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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.