Residents Say Smell From Tyson Chicken Farm Violates Ordinance

Published: Feb. 25, 2003 at 5:30 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2003 at 11:36 AM EST
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(MARION, Ky., February 25th, 2003, 12:30 p.m.) -- Several western Kentucky residents are claiming in court that a Tyson chicken farm violated a neighborhood ordinance on three separate days because of the stench from the barns.

The smell from the Tyson chicken houses was so strong on Aug. 4, 2000, that at least one resident of the Greenwood Heights subdivision said she had to hold her nose when she walked from her car to her home.

"It was embarrassing for anybody to come over," said Jennifer Moore, who compared the odor to the smell of dead animals.

Moore was among a half-dozen residents who testified Monday in the chicken nuisance trial in Crittenden District Court. The trial is scheduled to end Wednesday.

At issue is whether the odor of chickens from 16 broiler houses on the outskirts of Marion violated the city's nuisance ordinance on Aug. 4, Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 2000. Ten residents filed the complaint against Tyson and B&G Poultry Inc., which operates the barns built in 1997. The 400,000 chickens stay at the site about seven weeks before being moved to a Tyson processing plant in Henderson County.

County Attorney Alan Stout called Bud Wardlaw, the owner of B&G Poultry, as his first witness. He lives about 50 feet from the barns.

Wardlaw said dead birds are picked up each morning and placed in a freezer until Tyson drivers take them away. While all the freezers probably were not working on the three complaint days, he said the dead chickens were probably not the cause of the smell.

"We have them hauled off really quickly," he said.

Wardlaw was asked how many birds had died on the three days in question, but he said he did not know.

Kent Denton, one of two Tyson attorneys, told the jury that the state cannot just show there was an odor. They also have to show that Wardlaw or Tyson did not exercise proper care and that an odor was created, he said.

If convicted, the maximum fine for B&G or Tyson would be $1,500 -- $500 for each day they violated the ordinance.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)