The tiny town of Bokoshe, Okla., population 500, has had enough of the pollution that residents blame on power plants and fracking waste. Now, these citizens have filed a class-action suit against the companies they think are responsible.
In 2010, Bokoshe citizens were alarmed to find a coal ash dump site near their town was discharging toxic chemicals into their groundwater and likely emitting particles of arsenic, lead and mercury into their air they breathe.
Fast forward to November 2013, when Oklahoma's News 6 uncovered that fracking wastewater also had been discharged at Bokoshe, in quantities of "hundreds of millions of gallons."
Though the Environmental Protection Agency halted disposal of the fracking wastewater in 2009, residents tell the station it has reached their drinking water and negatively impacted their health, enough to warrant a class-action suit over the pollution.
The suit specifically seeks redress from nearly 50 companies accused of having "generated, transported, disposed, released, or permitted the escape of hazardous and nonhazardous waste."
Over 105 pages, the suit traces fracking wastewater to a plethora of oil and gas wells in Oklahoma and throughout Arkansas. The suit also notes the pit into which wastewater was dumped was not lined to create a barrier that would have "prevent[ed] communication of the waste and the groundwater."
And that's just the fracking wastewater.
In 2011, ABC News investigated the ash dumping in Bokoshe and found at least 14 residents in the neighborhood of 20 homes closest to the dump site had cancer. While the company that owns the dump, "Making Money Having Fun LLC," told ABC it would comply with any new government rules, the Environmental Protection Agency has since backed off declaring coal ash a hazardous waste, which would have resulted in stricter regulations.
Speaking to a blog devoted to documenting locals' reactions to the fly ash dumping problem in Bokoshe, resident Sue Hudson said that trucks take 80 trips past her house every day, loaded with hazardous waste and headed for the dump.
"Fly ash is blowing [from the trucks] on the way in and on the way out," she said, adding that her garden has since stopped growing. Now, she says, what little food grows in the garden is covered in so much toxic dust "you wouldn't want to eat it anyway."
Unfortunately for Bokoshe, reports News 6, though wastewater dumping has been halted, a power plant is currently permitted to dump coal ash there for the next 30 years.