TULSA, OKLA. — It’s finally underway. On the morning of Sept. 24, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson formally accused the Arkansas poultry industry of knowing for decades that excessive application of bird waste on farmland was polluting the Illinois River watershed, as he showed photographs of poultry litter piled high near barns and river banks, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Edmondson made this accusation as part of the state's opening statement in its pollution lawsuit against 11 poultry companies.

The poultry companies will have four hours on the afternoon of Sept. 24 to present their opening remarks in the long-anticipated trial, which is expected to go on for several weeks.

In 2005, Oklahoma sued the industry, claiming the bird waste it spreads on fields in the watershed is one of the major causes of pollution in the 1 million-acre river valley. "The case is being closely studied by other states that are considering challenging the way Big Poultry does business," the AP story relayed.

Attorneys and executives from poultry companies, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, packed a Tulsa federal courtroom on Thursday. There were at least 12 lawyers representing each side. Other defendants named in the lawsuit are Cal-Maine Foods Inc.; Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc.