Saturday, June 18, 2016

Photographer spends six years documenting Okla. town's fight against coal ash from nearby plant

Red dot on map of Oklahoma is the town of Bokoshe.
"The people of Bokoshe, Okla., breathe coal ash being dumped nearby every day. They believe it's causing widespread health problems and a rise in cancer deaths," Inside Climate News reports.

Bokoshe, a town of 500, is near a coal-fired power plant near the Arkansas border. "Its toxic byproduct, coal ash, is trucked daily to a nearby dump, and when the wind blows through town, that ash rains down on its residents," ICN reports. "They believe it is to blame for the asthma and cancer that runs rampant there." The dump is not covered or lined. A third of Bokoshe's residents don't have health insurance and 40 percent have incomes below the poverty line.

Carlan Tapp
Photographer Carlan Tapp has been documenting the story for six years. He recalled his first visit: "The street is full of light gray coal ash. I'd been around the stuff enough to recognize it. This is toxic material and it's lining the streets. . . . I've seen sixth-grade kids where over half of them have asthma and there's a locker full of inhalers. The trucks would be so dirty running from the power plant into town that the stuff would just be blowing off of them."

ABC News reported on the controversy in 2011. The Rural Blog did in 2010.

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