Union Pacific creosote facility community impact continues to be evaluated

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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In late January of this year, RT&S reported on a former creosote site in Houston that Union Pacific has owned for the last twenty years, and was formerly a Southern Pacific site.

According to the Houston Chronicle, about 500 residents in the area have become plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Union Pacific because cancer rates in the residential areas around the site are higher than average. In addition, there is large body of  creosote contamination under the ground, below the site. Union Pacific is responsible for overseeing this body of creosote, and they have issued warnings around residents building wells to tap groundwater, as it could be contaminated.

Union Pacific, according to the lawsuit, allegedly knew of the damage the creosote was doing in terms of property damage, elevating the risk of cancer, and causing deaths. In addition, the suit alleges that consulting firms Pastor Behling & Wheeler, LLC and Environmental Resources Management Southwest, Inc., along with Union Pacific, were not completely forthcoming with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the severity of the impact of this site.

A suit was filed for 13 plaintiffs toward the end of February by Houston firm Stephens Reed & Armstrong, but there hasn’t been a response from Union Pacific.

Union Pacific has retained the firm Baker Wotring for representation. In answer to a comment request, Union Pacific responded by saying “While Union Pacific sympathizes with the residents who are dealing with medical issues, we believe the lawsuit itself is baseless and plan to defend ourselves in court.” The statement was made by Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza.

RT&S will continue to follow and report on this story as developments warrant.

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