25 disinfected wells to be retested
By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Associated Press Writer
The state's Department of Environmental Quality is resampling 25 disinfected private water wells in the Locust Grove area.
Department spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney said the new round of tests, which could take up to two weeks, are being done on wells that homeowners have told the department were disinfected.
"We don't know what we will find," she said in an e-mail. "Like previous sampling, we are doing this so people can make informed decisions about their drinking water."
She said 107 wells have been tested so far in the department's probe of a deadly E. coli bacteria outbreak in the town that killed one man and sickened hundreds more last summer.
The unsolved August outbreak became the largest in the nation's history for the rare E. coli O111 strain.
Previously, investigators had pinpointed the Country Cottage restaurant in town as the source of the contamination.
But last month, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson suggested that it could have been the result of pollution from nearby poultry farms.
He released a report concluding that the well at the buffet-style eatery "is, and has been, contaminated with poultry waste and associated bacteria, including E. coli." His report also noted 49 poultry houses within a six-mile radius of the town that have the capacity to produce 10,000 tons of waste a year.
The poultry industry has repeatedly denied these claims.
Following Edmondson's announcement on the Country Cottage well, state agencies began testing private wells near Locust Grove for free.
Out of those tested, 20 wells turned up positive for E. coli bacteria, which is typically associated with human or animal waste.
A final analysis by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not find the rare O111 strain, but did identify three other types of E. coli bacteria: O141, O179, and O113 — all capable of causing illness in humans.
Edmondson's office maintains that even though the particular O111 strain was not found, other disease-bearing E. coli were identified, and that other area wells would not have been tested if his agency hadn't brought heat on state officials.
Leslea Bennett-Webb, a spokeswoman for the health department, said this week that the agency's report on the Country Cottage probe is being finalized.
Edmondson is suing 13 Arkansas poultry companies in federal court, claiming that the excessive land application of chicken waste in the 1 million-acre Illinois River watershed could be a danger to public health. A trial is set for September.
Companies named in Edmondson's lawsuit include Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc. and Willow Brook Foods Inc.
EXPOSING the FDA and the USDA - Broad Casting here the things that they would prefer us NOT to know about our FOOD & DRUGS & Farming.