Residents of North Houston Neighborhood Blame 12 Cancer Deaths on Toxic Railyard as EPA Promises to Take Action

LaTonya Payne told CBS News she believes carcinogenic toxins killed her son

The anguish is deep for LaTonya Payne, whose 13-year-old son died from leukemia in July.

“He just wanted to make sure that the doctors did everything they could to try to save his life. Until the very last breath, he fought and he fought,” she said.

Payne lives in Houston’s fifth ward, a low-income and predominantly Black community. The cases of childhood leukemia there are five times higher than the state average, according to the Texas Department of Health. The neighborhood is near a Union Pacific rail yard that is contaminated with the chemical creosote, a likely human carcinogen.

Payne’s 13-year-old son Corinthian Giles died of leukemia this year
Corinthian Giles, who lived near the rail site, died of leukemia in July at age 13
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There’s no confirmed link yet, but Payne is convinced the rail yard caused her son’s leukemia. Payne and more than 1,000 others have filed suits against the freight rail company for illnesses they say came from their properties and groundwater contaminated by creosote.

Union Pacific has said the chemical has been contained underground. In response to Payne’s lawsuit, the company said it will review and respond accordingly.

Houston resident Sandra Edwards says at least a dozen people have died of cancer on her street, including her father.

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SOURCE: CBS News, Janet Shamlian

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