TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A federal judge has denied Oklahoma's request for a preliminary injunction to stop 13 Arkansas poultry companies from disposing of bird waste in the Illinois River watershed.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who requested the injunction last year, said Monday's ruling had no impact on the state's environmental case against the companies, which figures to begin in 2009.
The injunction could have halted a practice thousands of farmers have employed for decades in the 1 million-acre watershed, which occupies parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma: Taking the ammonia-reeking chicken waste -- clumped bird droppings, bedding and feathers -- and spreading it on their land as cheap fertilizer.
It also could have led to similar environmental lawsuits nationwide against the industry, which produced more than 48 billion pounds of chicken in 2006.
Edmondson sued the companies in 2005, accusing them of treating Oklahoma's rivers like open sewers. While gathering evidence for the pollution case, Edmondson said the state ''discovered the excessive land application of poultry waste could be a danger to public health,'' and argued in court for the injunction earlier this year.