In December, I reported on how sand mining on both sides of pipelines contributed to erosion underneath them. Such erosion exposed five pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids (HVL) through one of the Liberty Materials mines in Conroe. The pipelines sagged across the gap like clotheslines. See below.
Repairs Now Underway
Several local engineers who saw the problem leaped into action and immediately reported the issue to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Railroad Commission. Four of the five pipelines were interstate and therefore regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. TRRC forwarded the complaints to them.
When I flew over the same mine on January 20, 2020, workers were busy shoring up the pipelines to protect the public.
Pictures from January 20, 2020, Flyover
From the materials stockpiled on the site, it appears that large drain pipes under the HVL pipelines will be part of the fix. These drain pipes appear to be as tall as the pickup truck parked next to them.
Situation at Triple PG Mine in Porter
These same pipelines run through the Triple PG mine in Porter to the southwest. See the utility corridor under the electric lines in the photo below. I reported on them in December also. The pipelines have not yet been exposed at this point, but no effort has been made to stop the erosion before it creates another safety issue.
During Harvey and Imelda, Caney Creek rerouted itself through this mine in a process called pit or river capture. Floodwater eroded a new path from the top of the photo above to the bottom. The pipelines have not yet been exposed, but easily could be by the next large storm. The inverted v-shaped cut you see in the photo above grew by almost 1000 feet since 2017.
Because of the Triple PG Mine’s proximity to the source of drinking water for 2 million people, this erosion probably represents an even greater threat than erosion at the Liberty Mine in Conroe. Caney Creek flows through this mine during floods. And Caney Creek empties directly into the East Fork and Lake Houston.
It all comes down to sand vs. safety. It’s their sand. Your safety.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/27/2020
881 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 130 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.