An Oklahoma coal fly ash disposal company has found themselves in hot, contaminated water over their practice of using oil and gas wastewater brine in the disposal of fly ash. According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the fly ash disposal firm called (no joke) Make Money Having Fun, LLC has been ordered to indefinitely suspend their practice of mixing oil wastewater with fly ash until they can resolve their numerous contamination problems.
And after years of trying to clean up their state, Oklahoma residents have been granted at least a temporary victory by the E.P.A. in their efforts to prevent Make Money Having Fun, LLC from continuing to poison their water supply. From the Tulsa World News:
The EPA issued a cease-and-desist order against Making Money Having Fun in April 2010 for violations of the federal Clean Water Act stemming from the discharge of pollutants into a tributary of Doe Creek.
The EPA found that the company’s practice of mixing fly ash - a coal-combustion by-product - with oil-field brine resulted in the discharge.
The EPA also issued an administrative order against the company in December 2009 stemming from the discharge of drilling fluid into Buck Creek, which inspectors found to be heavily contaminated with salts.
The drilling fluid is mixed with fly ash from the AES Shady Point coal-fired generation plant in nearby Panama, Okla., and the mixture is disposed of in a pit near Bokoshe.
The company name itself is ripe for parody. After all, the company has been the subject of an ABC News investigation, and has helped cause severe health problems in the small Oklahoma town of Bokoshe. But, if the company’s name is to be believed, they find activities like this “fun,” as long as there is a profit to be made.
EarthJustice said the following regarding Make Money Having Fun’s activities in March 2011:
Coal ash from AES is mixed with water and dumped into the mine owned by the company, “Making Money Having Fun LLC.” Seriously. It’s called “Making Money Having Fun,” and it’s poisoning residents with toxic levels of arsenic, mercury, lead and other dangerous heavy metals. There really couldn’t be a more inappropriately named company in America, and I’d bet that the folks forced to breathe in this coal ash dust or drink it from their local water supplies aren’t having too much fun, or making any money either.
Citizens of Bokoshe aren’t exactly thrilled by the company’s moniker, either:
“Making Money Having Fun might be having a good time dumping their coal ash in Bokoshe, but I assure you that the citizens are not having any fun at all,” says Tim Tanksley, who lives in Bokoshe and has been vocal in his opposition to the site. “The fly ash is in our air and in our water; it is flowing into our creeks, streams and eventually into the Arkansas River.”
An Alternet report goes deeper, detailing the company’s deceptive practices:
From the beginning, residents claim, the company has been flat out lying. It lied about what it was dumping and now it is lying about its potential harm to human and environmental health. MMHF and AES are simply not acknowledging that their waste site, which is also allowed to have oil and gas water, could potentially be killing the citizens of Bokoshe.
“They just told everybody it was dirt, that you could put it on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Tim Tanskley says. In December, students at Bokoshe Elementary in Oklahoma teamed up to ask AES to stop dumping fly ash from its Shady Point Generation Plant near their homes. Their teacher, Diane Reece, believes the coal ash has caused many of her students to develop debilitating asthma.
“When I found out that nine kids out of seventeen in my sixth grade [class] had asthma,” says Diane Reece, “I knew there was a problem.”
At the very least, the company’s name shows that it’s leaders lack compassion for the folks they are poisoning. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the town of Bokoshe who is having fun with the fly ash disposal site.