Houston Health Department finds chemical compound, Dioxin, in surface level soil in Fifth Ward

The Houston Health Department released new findings and have now started to notify residents of the Fifth Ward, the cancer causing chemical compound called Dioxin, has been found in surface level soil.

They say all 42 samples collected around the 33 acres around the Union Pacific site were contaminated with the toxin. 

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27% of the Dioxin sample concentrations exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) non-carcinogenic risk-based screening level for children. 

But for many residents, like Sandra Edwards, the new findings released was not news to them.

"It makes you mad, but you’re glad it came back, because you know now," says Edwards. "Everybody on this street has someone in their family that has passed away from cancer, on this one street alone."

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the new findings are a game changer.

"They did some additional testing-and the result found additional findings of Dioxin that are a game changer," says Turner. "Because up to this point in time the conversation has been about the plum underneath the soil."

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Union Pacific Railroad released a statement: 

"Union Pacific just received the results of the city of Houston’s study after repeatedly asking for the data. The report shows the Dioxin levels in the city’s samples are well below the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality clean-up standards for Dioxins in residential areas. Union Pacific understands residents will reasonably want more information. Attributing widespread Dioxin only to operations at the former Southern Pacific Houston Wood Preserving Works site is unreasonable and inaccurate. Union Pacific will continue to work with the city of Houston, Harris County and the Bayou City Initiative to collect data and to formulate a sound, science-based plan for moving forward."

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But residents are angered by their response. 

"The results keep coming in, it's all pointing to you," says Edwards. "These people had striving lives, companies and businesses before their body got eaten up with cancer. You took their lives from them, you robbed them of their lives."

The health department says, the highest concentrations of the chemical are at the fence line and decrease in areas farther away.