illinois river tahlequah oklahoma

Poultry Companies File Motion to Dismiss Oklahoma Watershed Pollution Ruling

Oct. 30, 2023
Group claims evidence in ruling that they polluted the Illinois River in Oklahoma is more than 13 years old, and advancements have already been made to protect the watershed.

Claiming that the evidence in the case against them is now more than 13 years old, a group of poultry producers including Tyson Foods, Cargill Inc. and others have filed a motion for dismissal of a federal ruling that they polluted the Illinois River watershed in Oklahoma.

“This case is constitutionally moot because the court can no longer grant any effectual relief,” the companies argued in a filing with U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell in Tulsa, Okla., according to an Associated Press report. In addition, the filing noted that conservation officials have seen a steady decline in pollution, saying improved wastewater treatment, poultry litter management and fewer poultry farms have made an impact over time.

The court ruled against the companies in January, saying they were responsible for the pollution of the Illinois River, and had until mid-March to work with Oklahoma officials to clean and protect the watershed — despite the trial having ended in 2013, a decade prior. In March, the judge granted a three-month extension for the plan, but both sides stated recently that mediation had failed.

The motion filed by the defendants further 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.”

The group of companies included in the ruling are Cal-Maine Foods Inc., 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.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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