All photographs by Carlan Tapp
The residents of rural Bokoshe, Oklahoma (pop. 497) have been living in the shadow of an uncovered, unlined coal ash dump for more than 20 years. Coal ash contains toxic chemicals like arsenic, mercury, lead and chromium that can seep into water and sediment, and blow from the ash piles into the air. According to Earthjustice, 70 percent of all coal ash dumps in the U.S. are located in low-income communities. Bokoshe fits that trend: Forty percent of its residents, mostly white, live below the poverty line, and fewer than a third have health insurance.