Oklahomaâ€™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 6â€™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,â€ 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.
â€œAn 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,â€ 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,â€ 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
12/10/2001 Lawsuit Filed Against Poultry Industry, Arkansas Town
4/12/2001 Report Shows Further Decline In Tulsa Water Supply
3/29/2002 Arkansas Governor Issues Ultimatum For Oklahoma
9/19/2002 Oklahoma Questions Arkansas Town About Phosphorous Pollution
9/29/2003 Arkansas County Tries To Curb Runoff Into Water That Flows To Oklahoma
10/23/2002 Arkansas Agrees To Move Poultry Litter
3/24/2003 Tulsa Settles Lawsuit Over Drinking Water Pollution
7/16/2003 Federal Judge Approves Poultry Lawsuit Settlement Between Tulsa And 6 Poultry Producers
3/16/2005 Edmondson Files Notice Of Intent To Sue Poultry Companies
7/15/2005 Battle Looms Over Chicken Waste
7/16/2005 Arkansas Poultry Companies Defend Litter
8/23/2005 Oklahoma's Attorney General Says He Has Spent $1-Million On Poultry Lawsuit To Date
10/4/2005 Poultry Companies Seek To Spread Blame
10/22/2005 Chicken Farmers Fight State's Plan To Test Soil
11/3/2005 Oklahoma AG Drew Edmondson Says Arkansas AG Mike Beebeâ€™s Action Shows Poultry Industry's Clout
11/17/2005 First District Congressman John Sullivan Calls For Settlement On Poultry Waste Issue
1/6/2006 Oklahoma AG Asks US Supreme Court To Steer Clear Of Dispute Over Chicken Litter
1/17/2006 Arkansas AG Meets With Poultry Farmers Over Oklahoma Dispute
2/21/2006 US Supreme Court Rejects Arkansas Attempt To Sue Oklahoma
2/23/2006 Oklahomaâ€™s Attorney General Asks Court To Allow Sampling Of Litter And Water
2/25/2006 Animal Waste Bill Alarms Environmentalists, Edmondson
3/23/2006 Federal Magistrate Approves Request To Take Samples From Poultry Farms
4/6/2006 Poultry Companies Oppose Dismissal Of Claims
4/21/2006 Oklahoma Farms To Be Tested In Pollution Lawsuit
8/24/2006 University Of Arkansas To Open Research Center On Water Quality
9/22/2006 Poultry Companies Lose Round In Federal Lawsuit
8/10/2006 Defendant Group Awaits Judgeâ€™s Decision In Poultry Suit
10/26/2006 Poultry Industry Challenges Drew Edmondson Ads
12/3/2006 Poultry Industry Fight Rages On
1/5/2007 Federal Judge Orders State To Turn Over Water Test Data
2/15/2007 Poultry Firms Seek Oklahoma Attorney General's Testimony
3/2/2007 Poultry Firms Want AG To Cut Legal Contract
5/13/2007 Water Expert Says Communities Can Do More For Illinois River
8/1/2007 Appeals Court Reinstates Poultry Farmers' Lawsuit
9/7/2007 Oklahoma Attorney General's Gets Support To Fight Farm Lobby
9/17/2007 Ranchers Join In Fight Against Lawsuit
10/23/2007 Commission Gets Check From Poultry Industry