The US Environmental Protection Agency grants Union Pacific’s request
Working with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in collaboration with its community partners, Union Pacific signed an agreement to move forward with additional environmental assessment and testing at the former Houston Wood Preserving Works (HWPW) site in Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhood .
The statement of work approved by the EPA enables Union Pacific to begin a number of activities at the site, including:
- Soil gas testing and assessment of potential vapor intrusion pathways.
- Soil sampling and testing for dioxins and furans, as a follow-up to recent tests in the nearby neighborhood.
- Additional storm sewer sampling and testing to evaluate potential impacts.
- Work plan development to guide the sampling and testing activities and reduce potential impacts from this work.
- Extensive community contact and commitment.
In January, the EPA granted a request by Union Pacific and its community partners to use the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to enable faster action by Union Pacific. EPA’s use of CERCLA authorizes and permits more rapid sampling and testing compared to alternative regulatory procedures. All of these actions will be paid for by Union Pacific, rather than taxpayers.
“Union Pacific takes its environmental obligations seriously and is committed to working with the EPA and the community on the site review process, including the railroad providing all necessary funding,” said Clint Schelbitzki, assistant vice president of Public Affairs. “EPA’s order allows us to move as quickly as possible toward solutions and proactively communicate with citizens so they are fully informed as we move forward.”
Since purchasing the property from Southern Pacific Railroad in 1997, Union Pacific has:
- Installed over 120 wells on site and in neighboring Fifth Ward.
- Covered creosote affected soil on site.
- Created an asphalt/concrete barrier to control exposure from underground creosote.
- Excavated soil and constructed a concrete sidewalk to address the contaminated area between the lot boundary and Liberty Road.
- Monitored groundwater and removed creosote from the subsoil.
For more information on the former Houston Wood Preserving Works site, visit: