'Cancer cluster': Fifth Ward residents talk with health department

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Just east of downtown, you'll find one of Houston's oldest neighborhoods.

But are those who live in the historic Fifth Ward at an elevated risk of getting cancer?

"Hey, as long as I've been living, it's been going on," explained resident Lacy Vann. "Can you imagine how many billions of dollars they've made doing this?"

Houston Health Department crews and volunteers are going door-to-door, educating residents and collecting health information.

Residents say high cancer rate caused by nearby rail yard

It's a response to a new state report that identified the area as a cancer cluster.

At least 110 homes in the Fifth Ward were built on top of soil contaminated by a cancer causing chemical, once used at a nearby railroad.

"The specific cancers that we're looking at are ones that are identified to be caused by the kinds of chemicals that are in the groundwater under their homes," said Lauren Hopkins, the Chief Environmental Science Officer at the Houston Health Department.

Union Pacific Railroad owns the rail yard, and officials said they are working with the state health department.

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