Local Video Stories

Al Jazeera Feature: Houston’s Cancer Cluster | Fault Lines

In Houston, Texas, residents of two historically African-American neighbourhoods with high rates of certain cancers are seeking answers after toxic waste from a nearby railroad yard contaminated their environment. Some suspect the pollution is the cause of a cancer cluster discovered in their area in 2019. The groundwater beneath more than 100 properties is contaminated with creosote, a chemical mixture classified as a probable carcinogen that was used for nearly 75 years at the railroad yard. But railroad giant Union Pacific, which owns the yard, says local residents could not have been exposed to the contaminant, and claims the creosote has nothing to do with the cancers. The Texas public health agency hasn’t yet decided if they will investigate what could be causing the illnesses. How do communities living alongside polluting industries and toxic waste look for answers and accountability when they get sick? Fault Lines investigates the cancer cluster in east Houston and follows a community’s search for justice.

I Will Fight Until I Melt | Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Annie Alowa, featured in this video, was a former health aide from Savoonga, a Yup’ik village on St. Lawrence Island, located in the Bering Sea just forty miles from Russia. In 1952, the U.S. Air Force established a base at Northeast Cape on the Island.  A decade later Annie began to notice serious health problems among island residents – including members of her own family – who lived, worked, and harvested greens, berries, fish, and wildlife from the Northeast Cape area. Annie began to see cancer, low birth weights, and miscarriages among her people.When the military vacated Northeast Cape in the early 1970s, they left at least thirty-four contaminated sites in a nine-square-mile area. Contamination includes at least 220,000 gallons of spilt fuel, as well as heavy metals, asbestos, solvents, and PCBs which are known to cause cancer. One of several barrel dumps in the area contained over 29,500 buried drums. There were also buildings and other structures, as well as large bales of copper wire, which had trapped and killed reindeer by starvation. Annie died of cancer in February 1999. Her perseverance continues to inspire ACAT’s work to protect environmental health and assure justice.