Houston Fifth Ward residents want answers on cancer cluster

Dozens of Fifth Ward residents met at a town hall meeting hosted by citizens group “Impact” Monday raising concerns about a cancer cluster discovered in the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood last year. meeting frustrated that more isn’t being done to hold Union Pacific accountable. 

Last year, a study conducted by the Texas State Dept. of Health Services found higher than normal instances of cancer near the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood. The cancer clusters were associated with a former creosote facility, owned by Union Pacific. 

Residents tonight say more needs to be done to keep them safe and protected. 

“It has gone on so many decades that people have built up a lot of anger,” said Leisa Glenn, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 40 years. 

Glenn is one of many residents who’ve lost too many of their friends and family to cancer over the years. 

“This shirt is dedicated to my mom Lucille Long and she has died of two types of cancer,” Long said.  

“I’m only 32 years old. We buried my cousins just last year, so it’s sad that I have classmates who are dying and we are young,” Donovan Boson said. 

“We’re relying on Union Pacific to self-test and be responsible for the testing, which I think is unacceptable. We need to have some independent outside testing whether it’s our city officials - they have funds - whether it’s our precinct county chairs, state representatives, US congressmen, things of that nature. I believe there’s money there and we need to get this testing done,” Boson said. 

“I want them to test the land more for vapor intrusions and tell us a little bit more about what’s going on and what it looks like for our lives with those that live over there in the neighborhood right now,” Glenn said. 

Citizens group impact wants Union Pacific to clean up the creosote contamination. They’ll be hosting a protest this Friday and honoring the loved ones from the neighborhood who died from cancer.