On January 21, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held a Town Hall at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston’s Fifth Ward, where a recent cancer cluster investigation by the Texas Department of State Health Services found higher than expected rates of cancers of the lung and bronchus, esophagus, and larynx in Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens neighborhoods, with elevated rates of liver cancer just added to the state’s report on January 17. 

IMPACT members Leisa Harris Glenn, Sandra Small, and Sandra Edwards with the Reverend James Caldwell of C.O.C.O.

At the town hall, members of the community group and Lone Star Legal Aid client, IMPACT, talked about their work to address an underground plume of creosote contamination near Union Pacific’s Englewood Yard, where many of the group’s members grew up as children. IMPACT President, Sandra Small, said she first began working with LSLA Environmental Attorney Rodrigo Cantú in 2016 to address the community’s concerns about the coal tar creosote, a carcinogen. Meeting monthly to discuss their concerns, the group submitted a request for a contested case hearing along with detailed comments regarding Union Pacific’s management of its hazardous waste and contamination through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in 2018. IMPACT Vice President, Sandra Edwards, acknowledged the pain and loss felt by her entire community. “For 20 years, we have been suffering.  We have suffered loss. We have lost parents; we have lost friends; we have lost loved ones,” shared Edwards. “We’re not waiting another 20 years.”

Encouraged by the attendance at the town hall, IMPACT welcomes concerned community members to join in its fight. The group meets at 6pm on the second Monday of every month at True Love Baptist Church, 4029 Falls Street, Houston, TX 77026.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org