Poultry production in the Illinois River watershed multiplied over the past half-century, a scientist testified Thursday in Oklahoma’s pollution lawsuit against the Arkansas poultry industry. Companies went from producing about 12 million birds in 1950 to about 152 million in 2002, said J. Berton Fisher, one of Oklahoma’s expert witnesses.
Oklahoma is suing 11 poultry producers, including Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cargill Turkey Production LLC, George’s Inc., George’s Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc., accusing them of polluting the one million-acre watershed with bird waste. Pollution expert witness Fisher also testified about how the watershed’s hills, thin soils and rocky, porous terrain allowed contaminants to seep into streams and groundwater. For decades, farmers have used chicken litter as a cheap fertilizer to grow other crops. Oklahoma argues runoff from those fields contains bacteria that threatens the health of people who fish and raft in the watershed each year.
Excerpted from www.newstin.com.