Toxic Tour in Houston’s Manchester Neighborhood

In the Manchester and Harrisburg communities, first there was king cotton, long ago in the 1800s. Now, refineries, chemical plants, and hazardous waste sites surround the neighborhoods of Manchester and Harrisburg in Houston. Pollutants in the air and in the ground surround the area.  Asthma and cancer are frequently reported for the mostly brown and black residents of these neighborhoods.

On February 26, 2023, members of the Sierra Club went on a Toxic Tour of this area, to see what the residents endure.

The first stop was the railroad in the Fifth Ward where creosote contaminated the soil and groundwater. A cancer cluster has resulted, with many residents affected.

Wheatly High School and other Houston schools have lead in their water. Lead filters are being installed to provide safe water, but progress is slow.

Manchester Park

Charles H. Milby park has great soccer fields, across the bayou from Texas Petrochemicals, Goodyear, and other industrial plants. A Texas Petrochemicals facility nearby exploded in 2019, and an EPA investigation is underway under the Risk Management Program of the Clean Air Act.

The people, the waterways, and the fish are poisoned.

Toxic fish


Even the trees are stressed, developing burls along the branches.

Burls on trees


The last stop was Hartman Park. To the north of Hartman Park is the Valero Houston Refinery, cited and fined by the EPA for violating air quality standards.

All of us have rights to clean air and clean water.

Let’s close the loopholes for industrial facilities ignoring normal limits during startup, shutdown, and malfunction.

Join the Sierra Club working for environmental justice, to assess the damage, risk, and discrimination in areas such as those visited on this Toxic Tour in Houston.



Photos by LM.