It’s nice when neighbors keep an eye out for trouble and respond when they see it.

East sider Suzette Watkins was concerned when she saw a tanker truck parked beside East Lancaster Avenue near the 287 overhead, with a hose running from the back of its truck down to a puddle of murky sludge.

Look here to see the photos taken by Watkins.


With urban drilling everywhere, including not far from the Lancaster Avenue site, residents are concerned about the industry taking shortcuts when it comes to environmental safety.

In this case, it appears nothing was awry. Workers were drilling horizontal holes about 50 feet underground to lay utility and natural gas pipelines. They mix bentonite clay with water and shoot it at high-pressure to bore the holes. Sometimes that muddy mix works its way up to the surface, particularly when the ground is dry and cracked from lack of rain.

When the clay surfaces, the Texas Department of Transportation sucks it up into trucks and hauls it away.

Still, it’s good to remind the industry that people are watching. Drillers aren’t exactly regulated to death by city, county, and state officials, and so the additional eyes of wary residents can become particularly useful.