FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kim MacLeod, 596-7803/527-0164
TULSA -- Attorney General Drew Edmondson has taken a bold step through
his decision to pursue an injunction to prevent the continued pollution
of Oklahoma waters by large Arkansas poultry companies, Oklahoma water
advocates agreed today.
Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority Chairman Louis Reynolds said Tyson
and big Arkansas poultry companies are notorious for placing blame and
employing stall tactics. Tulsa's mediation attempts with the companies
failed as well, and the city ultimately sued Tyson, Simmons, Peterson
and other poultry companies in an attempt to curb the pollution of one
of Tulsa's sources of drinking water, Lake Spavinaw.
The Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority tried reasoning with the
poultry companies before it finally filed a lawsuit against them. Tulsa
ultimately settled its lawsuit in 2001, but Tulsa officials believe the
poultry industry should be doing more to restrict the application of
excess chicken waste on crops, and state laws should be tightened to do
a better job of protecting water for the now and the future.
"The companies have the resources to help their growers deal with the
litter, but they refuse to fund simple solutions such as trucking it out
of the watershed and selling it to other farmers," Reynolds said.
"They are content to hide behind their lawyers."
It is imperative that more education is provided to the public and
state lawmakers on the extent of the damage excess poultry waste causes
to Oklahoma streams, lakes and rivers, Reynolds said. Attorney General
Edmondson is to be commended for not allowing the companies to threaten
him with their rhetoric that the industry will crumble if the companies
are held responsible for the pollution they create.
"Will this be a costly lawsuit for poultry as Attorney General
Edmondson stated? Tyson alone generates $3 million an hour in revenues.
That's $1 million every 20 minutes. Tyson spends $75 million a year on
marketing alone," said Ed Brocksmith, founder of the Save the Illinois
River (STIR) coalition. "The industry can afford to reach a settlement
that would protect Oklahoma's lakes and streams."
Mayor Bill LaFortune acknowledged that the poultry companies have a
powerful lobbying group, and the issue is complex.
"The poultry companies say the farmers are in compliance with what
the law requires, but the laws they are referring to are outdated and
still allow for increasing pollution. Laws need to be strengthened in
Oklahoma and in Arkansas, where poultry farms are abundant," LaFortune
"The farmers continue to shoulder the burden of waste disposal and
the growers are understandably leery of new procedures and laws. These
profitable companies need to
act responsibly by implementing permanent solutions to the phosphorous
problem they have created in our watersheds and scenic rivers," said
Jim Cameron, a member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority.