Residents happy to see EPA tackle Fifth Ward cancer cluster after decades of death, pollution

"It's heartbreaking to know that it took this long for real action to take place," said Fifth Ward resident Joetta Stevenson.

For years residents living in the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens were getting cancer at an unusually high rate.

BACKGROUND: Child cancer cluster located in Houston's Fifth Ward

Cases of childhood leukemia are five times higher than the state average.

"I received a call at work saying we need him right now, he has leukemia," said LaTonya Payne.

Payne says she got that call in 2013. Last July, her son died at the age of 13.

"I'm still dealing with the grief right now each and every day of him not being with us," Payne said.

"I have four relatives that have been affected by the cancer cluster," said Kelli Pryor. "The most recent being my mother who passed away this past Thursday."


Officials say historical operations at the Union Pacific Railyard at 4910 Liberty caused soil and groundwater contamination.'

"My great aunt had cancer. I had cancer twice. It's like you don't connect the dots until this information starts coming out at you and you're like there's a reason some of this is happening," Stevenson said.

"Every day I wonder is it my time, is it my day I go outside, is it waiting on me," said Sandra Edwards.

Edwards became very vocal about the cancer cluster.

"I watched this happen for years and years," Edwards said. "Nobody did anything about it, like nobody cared about this community."

RELATED: Houston Fifth Ward residents want answers on cancer cluster

The EPA says it will make unannounced inspections and expand air monitoring, that's just for starters.

"I'm excited that the EPA has finally decided to step in and take action against the environmental racism that's going on in our community," Payne said.