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Federal Judge Rules Waste Law Doesn't Apply to Poultry Litter

A federal judge ruled in favor of several poultry companies Tuesday by throwing out the state's claim that poultry litter is solid waste as defined by federal statute.

A trial in the state's poultry pollution lawsuit continued Tuesday in U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell's Tulsa court.

The state rested its case Monday.

Frizzell considered several motions by defense attorneys for Tyson Inc. and other poultry companies.

The defense team argued that the state had not proven its case of phosphorus pollution nor its possible causes if such pollution existed.

In response to a defense motion, Frizzell ruled against one of the state's claims, that poultry litter is solid waste as defined by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The law governs the handling of solid waste and hazardous waste.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Frizzell's ruling struck a heavy blow to one of the centerpieces of the state's lawsuit against 11 poultry companies.

He called Frizzell's decision to throw out the state's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act argument "a serious matter."

"It's been two good days for the polluters and two bad days for the watershed," said Edmondson, who attended the trial Tuesday.

Frizzell said in his ruling that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act standard addresses material that is discarded, thrown away or abandoned. To say that poultry litter is merely being thrown away is not accurate, he said. 

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