Excavation crews digging deep into the ground at Houston site described as a ‘cancer cluster’ by officials

Attorney for cancer victims says oversight and testing are also being done by the EPA

HOUSTON – The search continues for further creosote contamination at the Union Pacific rail yard touching the communities of Kashmere Gardens and the Fifth Ward, “What I saw was a hot fudge, petroleum oozing out of the sides of this five-foot hole,” said Houston attorney Jason Gibbons who added, “It smelled like petroleum and it looked really bad.”

    Gibson spoke with KPRC 2 Investigates regarding the new digging taking place on the southwest side of the rail yard, “They capped it and then thought that would be the end of it, but it’s not, it’s migrated so what they are doing out there now is to see how far it has migrated and to chase it around to see exactly what it’s been doing over the years,” said Gibson.

    According to representatives from Union Pacific. crews have been digging into the ground on the site for just over two weeks.  Sky 2 captured exclusive images of the digging. “TCEQ has required Union Pacific to get out there and do some additional testing,” said Gibson.

    excavation crews digging deep into the ground at houston site described as a ‘cancer cluster’ by officials

    May 14, 2024: Sky 2 captures exclusive look at excavation site where EPA is digging. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

      TCEQ is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It is the state’s equivalent to the U.S. Government’s Environmental Protection Agency, better known as the EPA.

      Last month KPRC 2 Investigates revealed a 1993 EPA report listing a section on potential Environmental and Human Targets at the site as well as contamination from years earlier.

        As for how much oversight is the EPA providing with this current project? “They are there and they are taking their own samples. They want to know how much of the toxic contaminants are still out there and yes they are providing oversight,” said Gibson.

        What do residents like Jeremiah Mack think? “We are very concerned because we have little kids,” said Mack a father two children ages 6 and 7.  Mack and his family also lives a block away from the site, “That railroad is real close to my house and it’s crazy, you can be there in about ten seconds, fifteen seconds sir,” said Mack.

          Union Pacific tells KPRC 2 Investigates, “The purpose of the soil excavation is to eliminate the potential for future contamination to seep through concrete cracks”.

          Mack’s take? “It’s like a good and a bad sign, because we don’t know what they are going to find.”

            Complete statement by Union Pacific:

            “Union Pacific Railroad began soil excavation and removal activities at the Englewood Intermodal Yard the week of April 29.  The work will be completed as a part of ongoing remediation associated with the former Houston Wood Preserving Works site and was approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  The purpose of the soil excavation is to eliminate the potential for future contamination to seep through the concrete cracks at the Englewood Intermodal Yard.”

            The EPA will be brief the public Monday, May 20, 2024 on soil testing set to begin in areas surrounding the former Houston Wood Presesrving Works site in Fifth Ward.

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