Union Pacific and the Fifth Ward Community
Union Pacific is focused on the safety of the Fifth Ward Community and is actively working on remediation at the former Houston Wood Preserving Works site under the guidance of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
We’ve made measurable progress with on-site cleanup since acquiring the property in a 1997 merger and are committed to transparent communication, community engagement and finishing the job.
It is important to note that reports, thus far, show that there is no pathway for the contamination to reach the community.s
Union Pacific Activities in the Fifth Ward
Beginning in September 2023, Union Pacific, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is launching a door-to-door campaign to obtain permission to access certain properties surrounding the former HWPW site for soil sampling.
Union Pacific proactively sought EPA involvement following a September 2022 Houston Health Department report citing the need for more soil testing. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, City of Houston, Harris County and Bayou City Initiative reviewed and commented on the testing plan submitted to the EPA, which has final approving authority for all the selected sites for testing.
Testing of the soil samples will determine the source, extent and potential health risks associated with contamination near the former Houston Wood Preserving Works. The soil testing will occur on more than 300 properties and be overseen by the EPA. Soil sampling is a simple and low-intrusive process that does not cause property damage. Testing is the most accepted method to determine the degree of contamination at a location and its potential source.
Union Pacific will make the complete test results available to the public once they have been received from an EPA approved laboratory and validated by scientists and the EPA. The results will also help inform a risk assessment, enabling the EPA to make decisions about any next steps to protect the community
Union Pacific is contacting owners to obtain access agreements so we may test the soil on those properties. Without a signed access agreement, the property cannot be tested. Absentee landlords have been mailed the access agreements and return envelopes. There is no cost to property owners.
Additionally, there will be soil testing at Atherton and Dogan Elementary Schools, nearby parks, Julia C. Hester House, and other places where children frequent.
Soil Testing Timeline
August 2023 – Absentee property owners notified by mail of soil testing program and request for a signed access agreement sent out
September 2023 – Union Pacific began door to door campaign to have property owners sign access agreements. Access agreements must be submitted prior to testing beginning, so act now.
Date Coming Soon – Soil testing begins.
Date Coming Soon– Soil testing concludes.
Date Coming Soon – Anticipated date for soil testing results.