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.
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.
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.
Today, Culverts Almost Totally Blocked
Today, the culverts look like this (see below). I took the images below on 7/22/22.
Below, see how the culvert outfalls have also become clogged.
Repeat of Headward Erosion
The shot above illustrates the same type of headward erosion that started causing the safety problem in 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
1798 Days since Hurricane Harvey
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.