Discovery of contaminated dump site worries residents

EPA officials say evidence shows contaminants such as arsenic, benzene are contained

HOUSTON - Residents in the Ryon community north of downtown say they had no idea they've been living next to a contaminated dump site.

Neighbors say they always knew a large industrial site was near their homes. What they didn't know was a wood treatment plant also operated nearby. According to the EPA, contaminants such as arsenic and benzene leaked from the plant into surrounding soil and ground water. In the 1980s, the situation was so bad federal officials ordered the "South Cavalcade Street Superfund site" cleaned up.

Some who have lived just blocks away for decades say they never knew a thing about it.

"The actual dump site is two blocks from where I live," said Monique Howard, a life-long resident in the neighborhood. "I had no idea and I've lived here 46 years."

"I was pretty upset that no one actually told us that it was there," said Myrna Trevino.

Trevino recently discovered the Superfund site when trying to sell a home down the street. She sent out 300 flyers asking neighbors to meet about it.

"We had about 50 to 60 show up at the first meeting and we gave them the information we found on the internet," Trevino said. "Based off of that, no one really knew what was going on. They had no idea."

Since the initial meeting, hundreds of her neighbors have joined the concerned group, says Trevino.

The group's biggest question: Why didn't they know? 

EPA officials in Dallas told Local 2 Investigates the agency held community meetings in the 1980s. Paperwork back at that time labeled concern in the neighborhood as "very limited." Since then, any cleanup updates have been listed as public notices in the newspaper.

"It's not enough," Trevino said. "It's indirect. This is something they can't keep under their hat anymore."

Those living in the area said they wonder if incidents of cancer could be linked to the contaminated site.

"We really need to know, what's going on and what's our next step?" Howard said. "What do we need to do?"

EPA officials say evidence shows the contaminants are contained at the dump site itself, and they believe there's no health threat for the those living nearby. Neighbors say they aren't convinced, and want tests done on their properties.

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