Original article written by Chris Moore
A federal judge ruled in favor of the state of Oklahoma in an 18-year-old case alleging the poultry industry was to blame for pollution in the Illinois River watershed.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell agreed with arguments from the state Wednesday against various poultry companies that operated within the watershed, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The ruling came nearly three years after Frizzell said an opinion was “on the horizon,” which was a decade after final arguments were made.
Poultry firms named in the suit included Tyson Foods, Cargill, Cobb-Vantress, Aviagen, Cal-Maine Foods, George’s, Peterson Farms, Simmons Foods, Willow Brook Foods and several subsidiaries.
The dispute involved more than 1 million acres of Illinois River watershed (IRW) affected by poultry litter that had been improperly discarded or used as fertilizer.
Attorneys for the poultry industry said municipal discharge was a larger problem and that the state allowed the use of litter as fertilizer.
Frizzell disagreed, stating, “Defendants criticize the State for not adequately considering other potential sources of phosphorus as part of its investigation. However, based on the evidence produced at trial, it is clear that poultry waste is a major contributor to the levels of phosphorus in the waters of the IRW. The court finds, therefore, that while other sources contribute phosphorus loading of the IRW, poultry waste is the principal contributor of the phosphorus causing injuries to the waters of the IRW.”
Frizzell granted an injunction limiting land application of poultry litter in the IRW, making the poultry companies responsible for various means of remediation of the watershed and continued monitoring of their compliance with the injunction, as well as civil penalties.
The judge set a deadline of March 17 for all parties to agree upon remedies. Frizzle said he would enter his own judgment if the parties could not reach an agreement.
Original article published on MeatingPlace.com on January 19, 2023