Chicken growers challenge Judge’s Illinois river pollution ruling

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Poultry producers are asking Tulsa U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell to throw out his long-awaited ruling that was issued in January of this year and declared they had polluted Oklahoma’s Illinois River with their chicken waste.
The producers, Tyson Foods Inc. of Arkansas, Cargill Inc of Minnesota , Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George’s Inc., George’s Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc. contend the judge waited so long in reaching his ruling, he waited 10 years, that the evidence is more than 13 years old.

“This case is constitutionally moot because the Court can no longer grant any effectual relief,” the companies argued in a filing with the judge.

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The poultry firms contend improved wastewater treatment plans and fewer poultry farms helped improve the conditions that led to the judge’s decision. They also pointed to Oklahoma conservation officials who stated there was a steady decline in pollution, according to the Associated Press.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office told the Tulsa World that “a resolution of this matter that is in the best interests of Oklahoma” is being sought.

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Judge Frizzell’s ruling, one that blamed the poultry industry for disposing of chicken litter or manure and leaching into the river, followed a trial that ended in 2013. The trial followed a 2005 lawsuit filed by the state of Oklahoma. But the judge sat on the case for 10 years before issuing his ruling and never explained why it took a decade to reach the decision.

In asking the judge to throw out his decision and order that the poultry firms and Oklahoma reach a remedy agreement, they stated, “The Court’s findings and conclusions rest upon a record compiled in 2005–2009,—-When this Court issued its findings and conclusions … much of the record dated from the 1990s and early 2000s.”

Source: Associated Press