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Testimony halted in poultry litter case

by The Associated Press | October 6, 2009 at 2:09 p.m.

— Testimony in the Oklahoma's federal pollution trial against the Arkansas poultry industry has ground to a halt, as company attorneys challenged the credentials of one of Oklahoma's expert witnesses.

The challenge Tuesday from the 11 companies that Oklahoma is suing came during testimony from Shanon Phillips, the state's water quality director.

Company attorneys argued that they didn't know what Phillips was going to be testifying about until Tuesday, and that the companies had "been taken advantage of" by the state.

Oklahoma sued the companies in 2005, claiming industry giants like Tyson Foods Inc., have been polluting the Illinois River watershed with tons of chicken litter.

For decades, farmers have used the litter - the droppings, feathers and bedding - as a cheap fertilizer to grow other crops.

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