Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It feels like the whole world is covered in fly ash....

Sue Hudson moved to Bokoshe, Oklahoma with her husband in 1978. They had been living in Ohio running a canoe outfitter when they decided to start a new life. He had gone ahead of her, scouting for a business for them to run. "I sent him with strict instructions that I didn't want to live in Oklahoma, and I didn't run a convenience store, I don't know what part of that he forgot, but it is exactly what he came back with."
In 1992 the AES Shady Point Power Plant went online 6 miles from their home. Soon after going online, the Smith Strip pit opened and AES started hauling fly ash past their home and business to the dump site one mile to the South East. Later, a second pit called the Thumbs Up Ranch operated by Making Money Having Fun opened up a few years later that is still in operation today. "That is when we started to get the blowing dust from the South and the West" Sue said. It was a disaster to the Hudson's.  "You have to stop and think" says Sue "eight trucks, running ten loads a day, every ten minutes they go by my house. Fly ash is blowing on the way in and on the way out."

Living in rural Bokoshe, Oklahoma used to be an idyllic life. A simple living with several gardens in the yard. The plentiful bounty making it's way to the dinner table. Now, living on a fixed income still isn't enough to make use of the scant fruit off of her apple tree. "You can't eat them. They are dirty, covered in  fly ash."

"It doesn't matter, not much grows here anymore anyway" she says. "We used to have big gardens that grew lots of food, but not anymore, not since the fly ash started. "You wouldn't want to eat it anyway. You can stand in the front yard and feel the grit hitting your face when the trucks go by." She continues  "At times there has been so much dust down at the corner by Sassy's cafe we have to turn on our headlights so the other cars can see us."

Life has been hard for Sue since the AES Shady Point Power Plant started dumping near her home. Her daughter Charlotte who lived next door to her since 1989, was diagnosed in 2004 from third stage Cancer in her lungs, lymph nodes and liver. She died 17 days later. Countless friends and neighbors have battled cancer and breathing problems. "Sometimes it feels like the whole world is covered in fly ash" says Sue. While I am taking notes at her dining room table, another fly ash truck rumbles past and I can feel the vibration thru my pen.
A fly ash truck drives past sue Hudson's home.

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