Oklahoma, poultry companies get more time to settle

The state of Oklahoma and a group of poultry companies was given 90 more days to reach an agreement to resolve a lawsuit in which the companies were accused of contributing to high phosphorous levels in water supplies in eastern Oklahoma.

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(Ivan Burchak | Bigstock)
(Ivan Burchak | Bigstock)

The state of Oklahoma and a group of poultry companies was given 90 more days to reach an agreement to resolve a lawsuit in which the companies were accused of contributing to high phosphorous levels in water supplies in eastern Oklahoma.

In January, Oklahoma Northern District Federal Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled in lawsuit, which dates back nearly two decades. He ruled in favor of the state, but instead of ruling on any penalties, he ordered the two parties to reach a resolution to the matter by March 17. If no agreement was reached, Frizzell stated that he would make a judgement.

However, Frizzell agreed with a request from Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond to give the two parties another 90 days.

In a statement to The Oklahoman, Drummond said: "We have had lengthy and productive discussions with the poultry companies about a resolution that both looks to the future and mitigates past damages. The poultry industry has made significant improvements over the years in its litter abatement process, and I am hopeful we can craft a plan that protects Oklahoma's natural resources without placing unreasonable burdens on the companies."

 In 2008, Drew Edmondson, who was the state’s attorney general at the time, filed the lawsuit, asserting that the poultry companies had caused damage to waters in the state, particularly the Illinois River Watershed and Lake Tenkiller.

Drummond, following Frizzell’s earlier ruling, stated that 13 poultry companies were named in the lawsuit.

The Oklahoman report identified the following companies as defendants: Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production, George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc.

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