First Witness Examined in 'Poultry Litter' Trial

US - The first witness has been questioned in the case regarding the alleged pollution on the Illinois River by poultry companies, saying there may have been no violation of state regulations.
calendar icon 1 October 2009
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Tulsa World reports that concerns about poultry litter harming the quality of Oklahoma waters are nothing new, a former state official said during the first day of testimony in state's poultry pollution lawsuit.

"This issue has been discussed with the companies for a decade or more," said Miles Tolbert, adding that he discussed his concerns with poultry industry officials while he was Oklahoma’s secretary of the environment from 2003 to 2008.

Mr Tolbert was the first witness called by the state to testify in the federal trial in Tulsa. It is expected to involve 40 to 50 days of testimony. US District Judge, Gregory Frizzell, is presiding over the non-jury trial.

The start of Mr Tolbert's testimony was delayed for about an hour yesterday morning (30 September) while attorneys squabbled over the admissibility of certain government reports.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked Mr Tolbert why the state sued the poultry companies.

Mr Tolbert said: "This is a two-state problem, and litigation was the only way to get a binding outcome."

Under cross-examination, he conceded that he was unaware of any significant violations to state Department of Agriculture regulations that dealt with the use of poultry waste as fertiliser.

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