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11 poultry companies accused of poisoning Illinois River

nytimes.com | 02/19/10

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Read More: chicken, pollution, poultry, tyson food

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ULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Motivated by greed, several Arkansas poultry
companies cut corners when getting rid of thousands of tons of waste
and allowed it to pollute a sensitive watershed, an attorney for the
state argued Thursday.

But the 11 companies accused of poisoning the Illinois River
watershed shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas accused the state of using
bad science and flimsy evidence to make its case.

After a trial that lasted four months, attorneys made their closing
arguments Thursday. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, who
heard the trial from the bench, gave no indication when he might rule.

Louis Bullock, an attorney for Oklahoma, said the poultry industry
had turned a once-pristine recreational area enjoyed by tens of
thousands of visitors each year into a ''green, slimy mess.''

''Judge, I'm all in favor of making a buck, but it's never an excuse
to destroy the beauty of this country to make a buck,'' he said.

The state says the companies, including industry giants Tyson Foods
Inc. and Cargill Inc., for decades disposed of hundreds of thousands
of tons of chicken litter each year by giving it to local crop
farmers to use as fertilizer. The state says the companies knew the
litter -- or the feathers, droppings and bedding left in barns after
birds are taken to slaughter -- was harming the watershed, but that
it was cheaper to give it to the farmers than to dispose of it
properly.

''They knew better, but they did it anyway,'' Bullock said.

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