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Judge Asked To Stop Land Application Of Chicken Litter

Updated:
Oklahoma’s lawsuit against poultry companies is far from settled, but the state wants the courts to intervene now. Attorney General Drew Edmondson wants an injunction to prevent more pollution of the Illinois River. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports while the poultry companies deny they are polluting the river, the state claims not only is the river polluted, but that there are markers in the pollution that tie it to chicken litter.

Two years after the state filed suit over river pollution, and almost two years before the case is scheduled for trial, Oklahoma's attorney general wants the courts to stop farmers from spreading chicken litter on fields.

"No industry could get away with what the poultry industry is doing in Arkansas and Oklahoma,” said Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

The attorney general says he wants an injunction before farmers spread litter from the 2,500 chicken houses in the watershed, which typically happens in the spring.

Edmondson's court documents detail results from water tests showing pollution in the river is due to chicken waste. He says it is to the point that it's endangering the people who drink the water or use it for recreation.

“An imminent and substantial endangerment of the public health because of the fecal matter and the chloroforms within that matter that is being spread in wholesale amounts throughout the Illinois River watershed,” said Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

The poultry industry points to state regulations they follow prescribing how much chicken litter can be spread on land. The industry claims other sources, such as septic tanks and wildlife contribute much of what's in the water.

Edmondson claims laws against water pollution mean no chicken waste can reach the Illinois and he says the state can prove that is happening.

"And they cannot deny and we are prepared to prove that they are in violation of that for the last decade, to the endangerment of our streams and now to our health,” said Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

The watershed Edmondson says is endangered covers a million acres, across the Arkansas, Oklahoma border. Most of the chicken houses are in Arkansas, and since the case is in federal court any injunction to stop the spread of chicken waste would cover them all.

WEB EXTRA: To view a copy of the lawsuit, click here.

Watch the video: State Asks Court To Stop Chicken Litter

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