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Houston's Fifth Ward contaminated with creosote

Posted by Jeremiah Boling | Mar 18, 2024 | 0 Comments

Understanding Your Legal Options: The Fight Against Environmental Injustice in Houston's Fifth Ward

An underground creosote "plume" stemming from a wood preserving site owned by Union Pacific has contaminated more than a hundred homes in Houston's nearby Fifth Ward neighborhood. Wooden railroad ties are often dipped in a mixture of creosote and other chemicals as a form of weathering. Local residents, who for years have seen friends and family diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses, have made repeated requests for testing. The discovery of several cancer clusters in the area was enough to involve the City of Houston, who has suggested that Union Pacific, who took ownership of the site when it merged with Southern Pacific Transportation in 1997, should bear responsibility for cleanup and the relocation of those affected. Union Pacific claims its hands are tied until it can independently verify the source of the contamination. 

What is in the Fifth Ward creosote plume?

Coal tar creosote, a toxic substance and probable carcinogen that has a number of other negative health impacts, is a thick, oily coal-derived liquid. The fluid itself is a mixture of many chemicals, including a group of substances also found in gasoline called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The EPA lists these along with creosote, dioxin and pentachlorophenol as the main substance families of concern for the Fifth Ward site. 

The mixture that seeped into the ground in Fifth Ward was more than just creosote. Companies often would use an extender to stretch the volume of the coal tar substance, and Southern Pacific included liquid waste from multiple Houston-area Superfund sites among those extenders. While Union Pacific still periodically removes creosote mixture from the observation wells it drilled around the neighborhood, the substance remains and continues to shift underground.

The potential risk of developing cancer or disease from being exposed to creosote is a serious concern that requires attention and action. It's imperative for individuals and families living in Houston's fifth ward to be aware of the risks, take preventive measures, and ensure that families have access to legal and medical support if needed. If you have been diagnosed with a disease and lived near the , contact Boling Law Firm right away. They can help you get compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages associated with this deadly disease. Call us at 1-800-799-7914

About the Author

Jeremiah Boling

Founder - Jeremiah earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the Mississippi State University. During his tenure at Mississippi State, he pitched for the Bulldogs baseball team and was selected for the Southeastern Conference academic honor roll. Thereafter, he received his Juris Doctor...


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