Tyson pays its share of settlement to Tulsa

Thursday, August 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) _ Tyson Foods Inc. says it has paid its share of a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Tulsa, Okla., officials over the poultry industry's effects on water quality.

The city of Tulsa and its utility authority jointly sued Springdale-based Tyson Foods, along with Cobb-Vantress, Peterson Farms, Simmons Foods, Cargill Inc., George's Inc. and the city of Decatur, Ark.

The lawsuit alleged they were responsible for 170 million pounds of phosphorous-rich poultry waste each year in the watershed that feeds the city's water supply at Lakes Eucha and Spavinaw.

Tyson said in a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it paid 22 percent of the $7.5 million settlement. Tyson said it paid the $1.625 million fine on behalf of Tyson and subsidiary Cobb-Vantress.

The four other poultry companies paid the remainder of the settlement. Peterson Farms Inc. paid $1.85 million through a promissory note secured by real estate.

Decatur, where Peterson is based, did not have to contribute to the settlement, but must upgrade or build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Oklahoma officials said excess phosphorous led to explosive algae growth in both northeast Oklahoma lakes. The lawsuit claimed the city spent $4 million treating taste and odor problems after an overload of phosphorus in the lakes.

A federal judge approved the $7.5 million settlement in July. Most of the money will go to pay the city's legal fees and attorney costs in the case.

The settlement also ends the spread of chicken litter to fertilize fields in the watershed until a phosphorus risk-based index is established. The defendants and Tulsa must each contribute $40,000 to develop the index, which should be completed by Jan. 1.