Oklahoma Lawsuit Blames River's Decline On Poultry

OKLAHOMA - When Drew Edmondson went to college here, the nearby Illinois River flowed so clear he could stand chest-deep and still see his toes. The water was such a temptation, "I majored in river," he says four decades later.

With the river now murky and green, the Oklahoma attorney general's nostalgia quickly turns to blame aimed at the $2 billion poultry industry straddling the Arkansas-Oklahoma line.

"I've seen it change," Edmondson said. "It's watching the slow destruction of a probably irretrievable asset."

Last month, he sued 14 Arkansas poultry companies in federal court -- including three run by Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer -- for allegedly tainting Oklahoma waters with waste from millions of chickens and turkeys.

Applied to farmland as fertilizer, the poultry litter has created a verdant landscape in the Illinois River watershed. But the land can't hold all the nutrients, and the runoff believed to be fueling explosive algae growth downstream in Oklahoma amounts to hazardous waste, the state's lawsuit alleges.

Source: channeloklahoma.com
calendar icon 15 July 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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