January 26, 2005
Contact: Aloma Dew 270-685-2034
Phillip Shepherd 502-227-1122
John Harbison 802-879-3940
Tyson Chicken Held Accountable for Pollution
Final settlement gives relief to neighbors: Tyson must reduce emissions
Owensboro, KY. In a “David vs. Goliath” battle, neighbors of huge industrial chicken operations, working with the Sierra Club, have finally won relief from the toxic pollution caused by Tyson Chicken. In a settlement signed today, Tyson has agreed to spend a half a million dollars to study and report on emissions and mitigate ammonia emissions that have been plaguing rural residents for years.
“Ever since Tyson moved in next door, my family has suffered from the stench, dust, and toxic pollution from their operations. Finally justice has been served, and Tyson is going to be on the hook for the problems they have caused,” said Leesa Webster, a plaintiff in the case. “’Home Sweet Home’ takes on a different meaning now—with Tyson being held accountable for their emissions, I can finally breathe easier,” added Bernardine Edwards, another plaintiff in McLean County who lives next to 16 chicken houses.
This settlement comes on the heels of a landmark court decision last November, when a federal judge in Owensboro ruled that Tyson is responsible for reporting toxic ammonia emissions from their operations. Since Tyson controls how the chickens are raised, what medications and food they are given, and Tyson received the bulk of the profit, the court ruled that they should no longer be off the hook for the consequences of their pollution—and editorials throughout the state praised this as a “common-sense” decision. This concept, called integrator liability, prevents Tyson from shifting the blame for their pollution to the local growers—and the ruling is expected to have far-reaching effects in rural areas around the country.
Today the final settlement consent decree was filed in Federal District Court in Owensboro. In addition to integrator liability, established in the 2003 ruling, Tyson must conduct ammonia testing at sites and report their findings. Tyson has also agreed to plant $50,000 worth of trees to act as a screen that will protect neighbors from the pollution coming from chicken houses. In addition, they will pay all legal fees connected with the case.
According to Sierra Club attorney Barclay Rogers, “This landmark decision will affect the entire industry. It’s clear that polluting factory farms have the responsibility to clean up their act and stop putting communities at risk.”
“After a long battle, we have won a victory for all the other families suffering from factory farm pollution,” said Norma Caine, a WebsterCounty resident who has been a leader in this fight for nearly a decade. “ We hope other citizens will now be able to speak up, and protect communities throughout Kentucky from this kind of pollution—for our families and our future.”
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.|
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150