Texoma's Power Plant Pollution Problems

Scientists and environmentalists believe coal fire power plants are killing vegetation across Texas. Although it hasn't been proven, the Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the data.

If proven true--it will be a big concern in Texoma where the Oklaunion power station is surrounded by miles of farm and graze land.

The Oklaunion power plant is a prominent Texoma landmark that provides power to thousands. Helen Griffin lives 5 miles away and can see the plant from her property. Although she feels the big buildings are unattractive, she says the plant provides a necessary service.

"I think it's kind of an eyesore. But eyesores don't hurt you, they don't bother you, they don't ruin your property or anything. It is a source of employment that Vernon needs really bad," says Griffin.

Nearly 100 people work at the plant and the City of Vernon is also affected with extra money due to an established tax base revenue.

In fact--some people Newschannel 6 talked to don't think the plant is a good neighbor, but didn't want to identify themselves because of the plant's substantial effect on Wilbarger County.

One person says the plant is forcing him to move, because of health concerns. Another farmer says he believes he has to use more fertilizer near the plant, than at his other property North of the Red River, just to keep his crops healthy.

The Institute of Southern Studies complied a list of the top 100 pollution producing coal plants in the United States. The Oklaunion Power Plant was on that list. To some residents who live near the plant, the billowing smoke stacks are a constant reminder and constant problem.

For one woman, the plant provides more than just power. Ash frequently turns up in her home, even though her windows are double pane. Boxes and fans are covered with ash even though it's constantly cleaned.

Yet some don't believe the ash and potential toxins are a problem and those living nearby should be thankful for the service it provides to the community.

"I've been told by people who live here longer than we have that you can't grow anything in this soil anyway," says Griffin, "So toxins haven't hurt us, so as far as we know, we're healthy."

Newschannel 6 did speak to officials at the Oklaunion Power Plant, but we were told no one would be available to comment until after the New year.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6