The Most Polluted Place in America?


It’s been a battle, but the final round contest for the title of “Most Polluted Place in America” looks like it’s going to be a battle between Picher, Oklahoma (photographed above) and Centralia, Pennsylvania.

Picher is built on top of old lead and zinc mines (those are the tailings in the above photo) and unfortunately the ground is prone to sudden collapse.  Literally, people don’t drive through potholes full of water as you don’t know if your car will simply be swallowed by a sinkhole.  You can read more about it in this post from BLDG BLOG.

The other contender is Centralia, where an underground fire has been raging since 1962.  Seems that the locals built their own homebrew mines there in addition to the ones that originally existed to extract coal.  A fire in the dump in 1962 spread to one of the mines and the city refused to pay $30,000 to put it out - with the result that it cost $42 million to relocate (and raze) the entire town in the 1980s (it would have cost $663 million to put out the fire).

Apparently, if you visit, you can still see smoke coming out of the fissures:

You can decide the winner...


Monday, May 21, 2007

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