Houston will use $1M of federal funds to clean up hazardous contamination sites

Shannon Ryan Image
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Houston will use $1M of federal funds to clear hazardous sites
The city of Houston is working on deciding how it's going to use money from a federal grant program to clean up parts of the city contaminated by pollutants.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston is one step closer to cleaning up properties contaminated by hazardous substances and pollutants - which scientists say can cause illness, even death, for the people who live on or near them.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city $1 million to clean up brownfields. The agency defines a brownfield site as a property where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

SEE ALSO: City of Houston approves $5 million to help residents voluntarily move out of 'cancer clusters'

On Wednesday, the city council voted to begin developing a plan to select sites for clean-up and distribute the federal funds. District B Council Member Tarsha Jackson helped sponsor the measure. Her district is home to an area of the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens, which is one of the city's most notorious brownfields.

"We're losing people left and right over here," resident Sandra Edwards told ABC13.

SEE ALSO: Texas Health Department finds no relation of Fifth Ward cancer cluster and chemicals used by railway

A study conducted by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services found creosote contamination at a Union Pacific rail site. Creosote, a chemical once used to make rail ties at the railyard, seeped into the nearby soil and groundwater, creating a plume for more than a hundred homes. Creosote is a cancer-causing agent, and according to the state, this area off Liberty Road and Lavender Street has a higher-than-normal cancer rate.

Joetta Stevenson, president of the Fifth Ward Super Neighborhood, said she has had breast cancer twice. She hopes the area is selected for clean up.

SEE ALSO: Program would relocate 5th Ward and Kashmere Gardens residents from cancer cluster

"The more dots we're putting together, the scarier it's becoming," she said.

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