The Former Houston Wood
Preserving Works Site

Union Pacific Begins Comprehensive Soil Sampling in Houston’s Fifth Ward

OMAHA, Neb., June 5, 2024 – Union Pacific, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the City of Houston and Harris County, announces the start of soil testing in Houston’s Fifth Ward. This comprehensive endeavor, the most extensive testing to date in Fifth Ward, underscores Union Pacific’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of residents through proactive environmental assessment and continuous remediation efforts.

The soil sampling, which follows completion of a first round of vapor testing, will assess the presence of contaminants, including dioxins, furans, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile organic compounds, at the former Houston Wood Preserving Works (HWPW) site and surrounding neighborhood.

Identifying and evaluating soil samples for potential contamination is crucial for understanding and mitigating environmental risks to the community. The testing will provide valuable insights into the extent of contamination, both associated and unrelated to past activities at the HWPW site. All data gathered from the soil testing and previous vapor testing will inform the compilation of a health risk assessment for residents in the area.

Working under the direct oversight of the EPA, crews will use hand augers, shovels, and spoons to collect soil samples from depths ranging from ground level to 12 inches below the surface. Sampling will occur on the HWPW site and across five designated zones determined by the EPA, encompassing residential properties, schools, parks and recreation centers.

The selection of sampling locations has been a collaborative effort, with strategic coordination between the EPA, TCEQ, and local community stakeholders. Control samples obtained from off-site locations unaffected by past industrial activities will serve as benchmarks for comparison purposes.

Control sampling, the first step in the rigorous testing process, began in February 2024, with neighborhood soil sampling and on-site investigations scheduled to start in May, and continue through the end of summer or early fall. A second round of vapor testing is planned for the summer months to gauge the impact of heat on vapor migration.

Toni Harrison, spokesperson and community liaison for Union Pacific, reiterated the company’s unwavering commitment to transparency and community engagement throughout the testing process. “The safety and well-being of Fifth Ward residents are of utmost importance to Union Pacific,” said Harrison. “We are dedicated to thorough testing, transparent communication, and proactive action to address any identified environmental concerns.”

This soil testing initiative builds upon Union Pacific’s years-long collaboration with regulatory agencies and local stakeholders. The company’s comprehensive approach includes groundwater monitoring, vapor intrusion testing and ongoing containment and remediation efforts to protect public health and the environment.

For more information about HWPW and Union Pacific’s environmental initiatives and ongoing work to protect the community, please visit


Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) delivers the goods families and businesses use every day with safe, reliable and efficient service. Operating in 23 western states, the company connects its customers and communities to the global economy. Trains are the most environmentally responsible way to move freight, helping Union Pacific protect future generations. More information about Union Pacific is available at


Union Pacific Media Contact: Robynn Tysver at 402-544-6037 or [email protected]

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