Tag Archive for: KM

Pipeline Bed Repairs Now Underway at Liberty Mine; At Triple PG Mine, No Progress

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.

Erosion exposed five pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids through the Liberty Materials mine in Conroe. Photo from December 3, 2019.

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.

Looking south, you can see drain pipes and riprap stockpiled on the left.
Looking south again. Workers appear to be creating an even deeper trench under the pipelines and pumping out groundwater.
Reverse angle, looking north. Water drains down from the northern portion on the mine through wetlands, under the pipelines, and then into the main southern part of the mine. From there, it makes its way to the San Jacinto River, out of frame behind the camera position.
Looking southwest. You can see wetlands draining from the northern portion of the site to the problem area in the upper left.
Looking north, you can see the scale of the drain pipes relative to the vehicles parked next to them.
The pipelines look less bowed than in the first shot from last December. However, there is still a pronounced dip between the left and right sides of at least two pipelines in the photo.

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.

Looking NW. The same pipelines cut through the Triple PG mine in Porter. Erosion from Harvey and Imelda has eaten away the ground on either side of the pipelines. They could be exposed in the next large storm. Photo taken 1/20/2020.

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.

This reverse angle shot shows the proximity of erosion from the north to the utility corridor with the 5 HVL pipelines. The pond at the right now actually touches the utility easement.
This satellite image in Google Earth also shows erosion at the edge the utility/pipeline corridor. The streaks of sand across the corridor show the direction of water flow during Imelda.

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.

This pipeline used to carry natural gas for Kinder Morgan. Triple PG mined too close to it also. Then erosion during Harvey and Imelda exposed it – twice. KM abandoned this line and filled it with inert gas. They then drilled a new line 75 feet under the mine. But this exposed pipeline stands as a mute reminder to the safety hazard.

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.