On April 7, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, released numerous records documenting the presence of asbestos-containing materials at the Union Pacific Railroad Company’s shops in Omaha, Nebraska.
The documents were released under a Freedom of Information Act Request (EPA-R7-2014-004329) filed by attorney J. Kirkland Sammons with the law firm of Sammons & Berry, P.C., in Houston, Texas. Mr. Sammons and his firm represent a number of railroad workers who were exposed to asbestos while employed by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
According to the documents, the Omaha Shops were in operation for approximately 100 years, with principal functions as a railroad fueling facility, repair shop, paint shop, and car body repair shop for Union Pacific’s locomotive and car fleet. From the 1950s until 1988, the site was a major overhaul and maintenance facility for Union Pacific. In 1988, most of the operations were moved to Arkansas and demolition of the site began.
Among the documents are numerous pages of correspondence between the EPA and Union Pacific, a Screening-Level Risk Assessment, Phase II Environmental Assessment, and Asbestos Interim Measures Report, which documents the presence of asbestos-containing materials in various locations throughout the Omaha Shops. According to the documents, a total of 46,500 cubic yards of asbestos-contaminated soil had to be removed from the site in order to make the area safe for construction workers to begin work on site. In addition to asbestos, numerous other contaminants including lead, arsenic, benzene, toluene, xylene, and numerous other known carcinogens were also identified. Thanks to the work of Sammons & Berry, P.C., these documents are available online from the EPA at the following link: UP Asbestos – Omaha Shops.