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Oklahoma Town Wins Fight Against Fly Ash, For Now

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The Fly Ash site in Bokoshe, Oklahoma. The Fly Ash site in Bokoshe, Oklahoma.
Fly Ash is the leftovers from burnt coal. Fly Ash is the leftovers from burnt coal.

Jennifer Loren, Oklahoma Impact Team

BOKOSHE, Oklahoma -- The people of Bokoshe, Oklahoma, are claiming a rare victory.

For years Bokoshe residents have been fighting what they call a toxic dumpsite less than a mile from town. But this time, state regulators ruled against the dumpsite.

11/18/2010 Related Story: Oklahoma Residents Fight State Over Fly Ash Site

It towers over the rural Oklahoma landscape: a mountain of ash trucked in from the local power plant. It's known as Fly Ash, the leftovers from burnt coal.

Residents of Bokoshe are convinced it's caused many of the cancers that plague nearby homeowners.

"We have had a very bad rash of cancers and respiratory problems," Charles Tackett said.

They've become unlikely environmentalists, fighting for tougher fly ash regulations.

They've had a few small victories over the years. Oklahoma DEQ now requires the fly ash to be mixed with water so it doesn't fly freely in the air.

But the owners of the dumpsite, a company called Making Money Having Fun, discovered they could make money by accepting oil and gas waste water and mixing that with the fly ash.

It was tolerated until the EPA discovered that fracking waste water was contaminating the water around the dumpsite and ordered a cease and decist.

The company took it's case to the state, fighting to continue it's use of oil and gas waste water. In fact, two Oklahoma judges have ruled in the company's favor. But according to this new and final ruling by the Corporation Commission,the company has officially lost that fight.

The order says Making Money Having Fun cannot receive waste water in Bokoshe until the company resolves all issues of alleged contamination. Then, it can apply to resume operations.

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