Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    A few building facades are nearly all that remain of downtown Picher, Oklahoma, Feb. 6, 2012. Thirty years after the Environmental Protection Agency declared Picher, Oklahoma the most hazardous Superfund site in America, the federal government is on the verge of erasing the town from the map.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    Smoke from a smoldering fire rises from a bulldozed home site in the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma, Feb. 6, 2012. Lead mining here produced many of the bullets used by American soldiers in World Wars I and II. Yet mining tunnels also left much of this Midwestern town structurally unsound, vulnerable to cave-ins.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    A mountain of chat, or toxic mine tailings, rises above Harrell Park in the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma. Above ground, giant piles of chat mine tailings laced with zinc and lead blew toxic dust into the air. Heavy metals seeped into the groundwater. By 1996, one in three children here had elevated lead levels, and federal and state officials were forced to take drastic action.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    Abandoned homes glow beneath a full moon outside the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma, Feb. 6, 2012. Federal officials turned off the town's water supply and closed its schools; they relocated its residents and bulldozed most its of buildings. All that remains today are mountains of chat, rising over the ruins of what may be America's newest ghost town.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    The Picher Christian Church, on the verge of collapse, glows beneath a full moon in the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma, Feb. 6, 2012.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    A bulldozed home site in the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    A recently-built neighborhood now sits completely abandoned in the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma, Feb. 6, 2012.
    EPA
  • Most Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

    An abandoned home glows beneath a full moon outside the toxic town of Picher, Oklahoma.
    Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
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