TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A federal magistrate granted the state of Oklahoma's request Thursday to take soil, water and litter samples on poultry farms it alleges are polluting the Illinois River watershed.
The Arkansas poultry industry, including some of the largest poultry producers in the nation, strongly opposed the state's effort to take samples on poultry farms in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
U.S. Magistrate Sam Joyner said the state showed good cause for pursuing the sampling.
"This lawsuit is about whether the Illinois River watershed has been polluted by chicken litter," Joyner said in granting the state's request.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed the federal suit last June on behalf of the state of Oklahoma. It alleges that Arkansas poultry companies have polluted the Illinois River watershed along the border between Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The lawsuit claims state and federal laws are being violated by improper disposal of chicken litter containing dangerous metals, bacteria and high levels of nutrients. Phosphorous in the waste causes excessive algae growth and can eventually lead to cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water, according to the lawsuit.
Named in the complaint are Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Aviagen Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms, Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., and Willow Brook Foods Inc.