Somerville Cancer Lawsuits Talk of the Town

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

The talk of the town in Somerville these days has a lot to do with a Burleson County railroad tie plant and cancer in the area.

People may have differing opinions on the issue, but all have one primary concern: the safety of school children.

In the town of Somerville many have ties to the railroad.

"The plants been here 100 years and so my family and people don't realize that along time ago that's how people survived around here," Somerville resident JoAnn Buck said.

However, it's those ties some feel may be contributing to cases of cancer in the area.

"If you dig into the ground, that ground is full of creosote," resident Pete Negrete said. "When it floods, there are ties everywhere there's creosote on the posts, on the ground, everywhere."

More than 60 residents have decided to sue either BNSF or Koppers believing their use of chemicals caused them to develop cancer. However, not all Somerville residents feel the plants are to blame.

"My mother had diabetes. My dad had a bad heart," resident Gayle Ryan said. "I have a bad heart and diabetes. Am I suing my parents? No."

Willie Discher added, "In my mind, some lawyer is trying to make him some money."

The fear of potentially deadly toxins in the area, however, led the Somerville school district to bring in Texas A&M researchers to take samples of the schools' attics and heavily-trafficked student areas.

The superintendent gave a progress report on those findings at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

"They tested for five compounds. They've tested all of them and analyzed four others," Somerville Superintendent Charles Camarillo said.

The results of one last compound has to come in before officials will get the final report.

Until then, a community must sit and wait.

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