Sunday, 12 June 2016

The most toxic place in America

Tucked against the Kansas border in the upper north-east corner of Oklahoma is a place that was called Picher.  I say called because in 2008 the towns charter was decertified and it no longer officially exists.

When I travel through Oklahoma it’s hard to imagine that this place created the great “dust bowl” resulting in the huge migration to California .  

So badly had man decimated the land, in an attempt to squeeze every last penny out it, that they killed “the golden goose”.

Having learned, or so we thought, the lessons of the Great Dust Bowl why then did Picher come about?

Between the WW1 and WWII 75% of all the bullets and artillery rounds fired came from minerals mined from Picher mines.  Again the land was squeezed for every cent that could be extracted at a cost that matches the Great Dust Bowl.  The tragic byproduct of all these bullets and shells, besides the killing of their victims, was the death and destruction heaped upon the residence of Picher and it's surrounding areas. 34% of Picher's children suffered from lead poisoning due to these environmental effects.

Talk about a contradiction
The byproduct was enormous mounds of sand, ore and rock that contained huge amounts of lead, zinc and arsenic to the point that it is now among a small number of world locations that had to be evacuated and declared uninhabitable due to environmental health damage caused by its mines.

One of the many mountains of poisonous lead and zinc

In 2008  Picher was hit by a F4 tornado that was the straw that broke the towns back.  Picher is called the Most Toxic Town in America.  It’s residences are gone the US government buying out the home owners.  Most of the buildings have been razed and only their empty concrete slabs remain.

The Football mascot is all the remains of the once team

The Fire hall and EMS station with flag and tornado siren stand but no one works here anymore.

Rusting equipment sits beside empty lots that once had building sitting on them.
The only thing left standing is the tornado shelter
 Homes once sat on these slabs, now all raised by US government, only the poison mountains remain.

Today Picher has been declared uninhabitable due to environmental and health damage caused by the mines the town once serviced.

Time to travel to more uplifting places. 


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