Two daredevil sand mining companies, Triple PG Sand Development, LLC and Texas Concrete, have stepped up their efforts to mine sand between pipelines that carry natural gas and highly volatile liquids.
AG Lawsuit Filed in 2019
In October of last year, the Texas Attorney General sued the Triple PG mine in Porter for up to $1 million on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The original petition in the case cited repeated breaches in the mine’s dikes over a period of several years that let process water and sediment from the mine escape into the headwaters of Lake Houston. Lake Houston supplies drinking water for approximately two million people.
Days after the AG filed the suit, the mine’s owner, Dr. Prabhakar R. Guniganti, a cardiologist from Nacogdoches, tried to shuffle ownership of the mine through a series of trusts controlled by his family. In June of this year, the AG filed an amended petition, naming all the trusts and their officers (both individually and as directors) as additional defendants.
In that amended petition, we learned that a new operator started managing the mine in May of this year. However, Guniganti still owns it, according to the Montgomery County Appraisal District. The new operator is Texas Concrete, the same company that TCEQ fined in Plum Grove on the East Fork – for multiple breaches and other violations.
Both the TCEQ and AG’s office have declined to comment on ongoing legal matters relating to the Triple PG operation. However, while flying over the mine on Monday this week, I saw something very disturbing.
Mining Between Pipeline Corridors
Kinder Morgan has an easement for a natural gas pipeline through the mine. You can see the pipeline path on the left in the photo below. Their pipeline was exposed during Harvey by erosion and had to be buried deeper. Luckily, no explosions or fires resulted.
Additional pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids run through the utility corridor at the top of the frame. LMI exposed those same pipelines further northwest when it mined on both sides of them. Then erosion ate the sand out from under them.
Now, Triple PG and Texas Concrete are mining sand from between the pipelines. This will increase the potential for erosion in future storms. That could expose pipelines and potentially lead to pipeline ruptures, spills, and/or explosions.
To adapt a phrase about pilots from the aviation industry, “There are old miners and bold miners.” Those daredevils at Triple PG sure are Bold. With a capital B. As in Boom.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/11/2020
1200 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.