Evacuated in 2009 due to lead contamination, Picher OK is now a Superfund* ghost town too toxic to clean up.
In 2009, the lead mining town of Picher, OK joined a number of more famous American non-cities that have been permanently evacuated due to industrial contamination. See the Toxic Apocalypse sites at Times Beach, MO, Love Canal, NY and Centralia, PA.
Picher is a storybook example of what people are willing to overlook in order to have an economy. The area – including parts of Kansas – was declared the Tar Creek Superfund* site in 1981, but most of the residents didn’t leave until 2006 when studies found that most of the town was in imminent danger of collapsing into the mines. With 14,000 abandoned mine shafts lacing the ground below, 70 million tons of tailings and 36 million tons of sand and sludge dominating the landscape all around the town, the EPA decided the place was just to damn toxic to clean up.
*And in a way, that’s OK, because the Superfund is not so Super, having been starved of money by forces unknown.