New Film Addresses Environmental Racism in Houston
A 14-minute film discussing the cumulative impact of environmental racism on Houston and Houstonians is set to air sometime next week with a panel of health experts, housing advocates, and community leaders there to field questions along with the film’s producer and director, Ronald Llewellyn Jones.
The film addresses environmental issues within predominantly African-American neighborhoods like the Fifth Ward, Kashmere Gardens, Sunnyside, and Acres Homes. These neighborhoods, according to the movie, have been dumping grounds for large corporations for decades now. This is not unusual. Poor neighborhoods have lower property values which go lower but take less of a hit, than middle class and upscale communities. The documentary explores at least one class-action lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad alleging that the inadequate disposal of toxic chemicals led to the deaths and illnesses of nearby residents.
The Case Against Union Pacific Railroad
51-year-old Regina Martin-Morgan recalls that it began with her mother, who got colon cancer in 2011. Later, it was her father who contracted colon cancer. Then it was her brother, who contracted Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cancer hit each of them within ten years. Regina was the primary caretaker to each of her family members who later died. She still lives in the house she grew up in.
She has joined a number of other plaintiffs in a wrongful death class-action against Union Pacific. The plaintiffs allege that Union Pacific is responsible for the cancer cluster that robbed them of their family members and may, in turn, shorten their own lives considerably. A property damage lawsuit has also been filed against the company for causing the plummeting of property values after the area was labeled a cancer cluster.
The lawsuits were filed after health experts recognized that the area had a higher-than-expected rate of lung, esophagus, and larynx cancers in areas immediately surrounding the rail yard. The culprit: Creosote.
However, the ground soil and surrounding area were contaminated long before Union Pacific purchased the property. Southern Pacific operated a wood treatment facility. Creosote is used for wood treatment. When Union Pacific took over the property, they were expected to perform some kind of survey on it. That would include testing the ground soil for contamination.
Creosote waste from the facility was dumped into the ground forming a contamination plume. Meanwhile, the waste was sinking deeper and deeper into the ground. Union Pacific notified residents in 2014. Union Pacific maintains that residents have not been exposed to creosote, and the company has complied with all environmental requirements.
Plaintiffs for the victims say that Union Pacific knew about the creosote waste long before they reported it to authorities. The plaintiffs claim that the company was content to sit on the information until it became absolutely necessary to divulge it leaving residents in the dark.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by an environmental toxin, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can help you sue the company that exposed you and recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life.