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. Shady Point is a 350 megawatt plant that produces electricity for many locations throughout the Midwestern United States. 90% of the coal used comes from Wyoming and the rest is Oklahoma coal- both having a high sulfur content and of very poor quality [1]. The byproduct of burned coal is a powdery substance called coal combustion waste, or fly ash [2], a substance driven through the middle of the town of Bokoshe on 80 trucks a day to an unlined dumpsite [1]. This dump has been in the town since 2001 [3].
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Basic Data
NameCoal Ash Dump Site in Bokoshe in OK, USA
CountryUnited States of America
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 CommoditiesCoal
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 (in hectares)129
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population500-550
Start Date01/01/2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesMaking 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 actorsU.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oklahoma Department of Mines
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSierra 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
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment 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…)
OtherRespiratory illness and other diseases from fly ash in air and water
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of AlternativesPhysicians 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

[1] Bokoshe Oklahoma, Home of a Fly Ash Dump Site. Blog.
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[2] Oklahoma Fails Small Town In Fly Ash Regulation. News on 6. Oct 28, 2010
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[3] Oklahoma Town Fears Cancer, Asthma May Be Linked to Dump Site. ABC News. March 29, 2011
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[4] Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste. Scientific American. December 13, 2007
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[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
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[8] ABC World News Covers Bokoshe Coal Ash Dump. Texas Vox: The Voice of the Public Citizen in Texas. March 29, 2011
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E.P.A. Issues Rules on Disposal of Coal Ash to Protect Water Supply- Dec 19, 2014 NY Times
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[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
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Media Links

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.
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Oklahoma Fails Small Town In Fly Ash Regulation- Oct 28, 2010 News Story
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Bokoshe Residents Speak Out- Feb 5, 2009
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Other Documents

Google Satelite image of the Bokoshe coal ash pit Source:
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Sierra Club chapter standing in front of coal ash pit Source: Sierra Club Oklahoma chapter, Jody Harlan
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2009 DEQ Air Quality meeting attended by Bokoshe residents Source:
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Bokoshe fly ash Source:
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Fly ash, 2010 Source:
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Fly ash trucks Source:
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Open pit operated by Making Money Having Fun LLC, 2010 Source:
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Shady Point power plant Source:
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Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015