'This is our shot:' Texans ask for protection against Union Pacific's cancer-causing chemicals

Courtney Fischer Image
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Houstonians to sit in on TCEQ hearing that will address cancer cluster
The Sunset Advisory Commission meets every 12 years, so people like Sen. Borris Miles think this is their chance to get officials to fix the issue of contaminated air and water "because people will die."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houstonians boarded a bus to Austin early Wednesday morning to attend a hearing where the Fifth Ward cancer cluster will be addressed.

The busload of people will say their piece in front of the Sunset Advisory Commission, an agency that evaluates how other agencies, like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in the state are doing and what changes need to be made.

The Sunset Advisory Commission meets every 12 years, so a lot of people on the bus feel like this is their chance.

"We're concerned about the water we're drinking, we're concerned about the air we're breathing. We can't wait another decade plus for change because people will die," said Texas Sen. Borris Miles.

SEE RELATED STORY: Fifth Ward residents plead for action from EPA on cancer cluster

ABC13 was there before the bus of 60 people took off and asked everyone who boarded how they were feeling. Several people said they are tired of being ignored.

We have reported several times before on the effects the residents of Fifth Ward have felt for decades. They said TCEQ must do more to clean up their community.

SEE RELATED STORY: Fifth Ward residents upset over Union Pacific campaign donations: 'We're fighting for our lives'

SEE MORE: Kashmere Gardens in Fifth Ward set to be cleaned up by EPA after decades of contaminated soil

Back in 2019, the contaminated area was named as a "cancer cluster" site. It's the area around the Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Pacific once used a chemical there called creosote which can cause cancer. People have been getting sick around that area for decades.

More than 1,300 Fifth Ward residents are suing Union Pacific over the contamination. A spokesperson for the transport company told us in May that they need the TCEQ to approve their cleanup plan so they can focus on protecting the environment and health and safety of the public.

ABC13 will keep you updated on the outcome.

SEE ALSO: Lawsuit takes aim against Union Pacific after cancer-causing chemicals found in Fifth Ward

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