Document Type


Date of Award



College of Science, Engineering, and Technology (COSET)

Degree Name

MS in Transportation Planning & Management

Committee Chairperson

Gwendolyn C. Goodwin

Committee Member 1

Carol A. Lewis

Committee Member 2

Mehdi Azimi

Committee Member 3

Roderick Holmes


• Carcinogens in Freight Facilites • Creosote in rail yards • Rail yard contaminants • Rail yard environment • Rail yard toxins • Rail yards


This study provides a qualitative analysis and uses a cross-case comparison to highlight the contamination exposure of the Englewood rail yard in Houston, Texas to contamination exposure found in four (4) other rail yards: Conrail rail yard in Elkhart, Indiana, Union Pacific rail yard in Eugene, Oregon, Paoli rail yard in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and CSX rail yard in Waycross, Georgia. The research will show that a high level of cancer-causing toxins created a health problem in the Houston area communities of the city’s Greater Fifth Ward, Denver Harbor, and Kashmere Gardens neighborhoods. Based upon the disposal practices by rail yard facilities, cancer-causing toxins formed plumes and contaminated the groundwater and soil that impacted the health of residents living nearby rail yards. The impact of these cancer-causing toxins creates an “urgency of need” to ensure that clean-up and environmental equity are established. To determine the facts, this study will examine the type of contaminant plaguing these communities; what caused the contamination; and what should be done to abate the suffrage of these communities adjacent to a rail yard. The key findings of this study revealed that the improper release of wastewater to nearby drainage ditches from operations of the Houston Wood Preserving Works (HWPW), poor waste handling practices, leaks of two underground storage tanks, and spills/leakage from daily operations are all possible sources to the ongoing contamination in the above communities. Future studies should address expanding the rail yard websites to include links to technical documents that will inform the public of potential hazards and the exact location of contaminants. Allowing this information to be readily available will show rail yard accountability to the public.