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Coal Ash Dump Site in Bokoshe in OK, USA

Having Fun, dumping ashes and still making money; residents in Oklahoma dealing with 80 truckloads of fly on a daily basis


Located in the small town of Bokoshe, Oklahoma, population 512 (2010 Census), is a dumpsite for byproducts of Shady Point coal-fired power plant operations.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coal Ash Dump Site in Bokoshe in OK, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Oklahoma
Location of conflict:Bokoshe
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

EPA documents show the Shady Point power plant dumped fly ash containing more than 56,000 pounds of arsenic compounds, 1,100 hundred pounds of mercury and 1,000 pounds of lead at the site in 2007 alone [2].

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Project area:129
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500-550
Start of the conflict:01/01/2001
Company names or state enterprises:Making Money Having Fun LLC (MMHF) from United States of America - Owner and operator of fly ash pit in Bokoshe, OK
AES Corporation (AES) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oklahoma Department of Mines
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sierra Club, Two is Too Many, BECAUSE, Public Citizen, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environmental Integrity Project, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Montana Environmental Information Center, Prairie Rivers Network, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Western north Carolina Alliance
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Waste overflow
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsRespiratory illness and other diseases from fly ash in air and water
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) have supported the use of protective practices to control toxic dust, such as moistening dry ash and covering it daily in a landfill, can minimize the dangers to public health (
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While the EPA did pass a rule requiring stricter reporting requirements and other regulations at the end of 2014, it is yet to be seen if this will be enforced, especially considering that the state of Oklahoma still has no regulations for coal ash dump sites and enforcement has been minimal in the past. Meanwhile, residents are continuing to deal with 80 truckloads of fly ash going through the town of Bokoshe on a daily basis.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Bokoshe Oklahoma, Home of a Fly Ash Dump Site. Blog.
[click to view]

[2] Oklahoma Fails Small Town In Fly Ash Regulation. News on 6. Oct 28, 2010
[click to view]

[3] Oklahoma Town Fears Cancer, Asthma May Be Linked to Dump Site. ABC News. March 29, 2011
[click to view]

[4] Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste. Scientific American. December 13, 2007
[click to view]

[5] Ash in the Lungs: How Breathing Coal Ash is Hazardous to Your Health. Physicians for Social Responsibility and Earth Justice.
[click to view]


REGULATORY GAPS. Earth Justice. 2012
[click to view]

[8] ABC World News Covers Bokoshe Coal Ash Dump. Texas Vox: The Voice of the Public Citizen in Texas. March 29, 2011
[click to view]

[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

E.P.A. Issues Rules on Disposal of Coal Ash to Protect Water Supply- Dec 19, 2014 NY Times
[click to view]

[7] AES Shady Point II status. Sierra Club.
[click to view]

[10] 2014 Final Rule: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities. U.S. EPA. December 19, 2014
[click to view]

[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Oklahoma Fails Small Town In Fly Ash Regulation- Oct 28, 2010 News Story
[click to view]

Bokoshe Residents Speak Out- Feb 5, 2009
[click to view]

Bokoshe- In the Air We Breathe. This is a film produced for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club. The film covers the town of Bokoshe, OK and its residents who for the past several years have been affected by the illegal dumping of toxic fly ash; the byproduct of burning coal.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015
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