Lawsuit Alleges Cameron Missouri Brain Tumors Linked to Fertilizer

According to a lawsuit filed last week over brain tumors that have surfaced in recent years among residents of Cameron, Missouri, contaminated sludge provided by a tannery to local farmers for use as an agriculture fertilizer is allegedly to blame for the tumor cluster.

An unusually high number of residents of the small town of Cameron, Missouri have developed brain tumors, with at least 70 cases diagnosed since 1996. According to 2000 census data, the total population for the town was only 8,312.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Missouri Department of Health, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and a state epidemiologist have been investigating whether there is a common cause for the brain tumors, which some epidemiologists have suggested may not be abnormally high.

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On April 22, 2009, a new Cameron brain tumor lawsuit was filed in Clinton County Circuit Court in Missouri, on behalf of local residents William Kemper, who lost his wife Karen to a brain tumor last year, and Janet Lasher, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to her brain.

According to the complaint, Prime Tanning Corp., of St. Joseph, Missouri, used chromium to remove hair from hides between 1983 through early 2009. The waste product from the tanning process was then collected as thousands of tons of sludge that were delivered to farms in Buchanan, DeKalb, Andrew and Clinton counties in Northwest Missouri for use as a free fertilizer.

The lawsuit alleges that the sludge contained high levels of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, that farmers then unknowingly spread across their land.

Prime Tanning and an employee, Rick Beam, have been accused of negligently failing to warn about the high levels of hexavalent chromium contained in the sludge, failing to report test results indicating high levels of metal and failing to adequately test the sludge for the known carcinogen.

Congressman Sam Graves, a Republican from Missouri’s sixth district where Cameron is located, wrote a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking that they investigate the new evidence disclosed in the lawsuit.

“Previous EPA efforts did not investigate the specific sources where hexavelent chromium has been discovered,” wrote Rep. Graves in a letter dated April 22, 2009. “I ask the EPA to move quickly and to use all available resources to examine this evidence and to conduct any additional measures necessary to protect public health.”

The lawsuit was the first indication that the tannery may be the potential cause of the Cameron brain tumors.

A prior Cameron Missouri class action lawsuit filed in August 2008 on behalf of residents of the town, alleged that the problems were caused by high levels of lead and arsenic found in soil samples taken from the land around the Rockwool Industries plant near the town. Arsenic and lead can damage a person’s nervous system and potentially cause cancer.

21 Comments

  • DonaldFebruary 21, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    I lived in Cameron from 1970 to 1984. I was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiform 5/4/2020.

  • JohnFebruary 1, 2021 at 3:59 am

    I have a brain tumor Glioblastoma. I live in country directly East of Hamilton, MO which is 16 miles East of Cameron, MO. I’ve never had any problems until October of 2020. Future is poor.

  • vickyApril 24, 2012 at 5:39 am

    i lived in cameron for 8 years and had a friend whose mother passed from a brain tumor and they believed it was from the water being contaminated from some company in st joseph missouri, it seems as if they stopped the eager search to find answers and i think its just so sad.

  • StephanieMarch 27, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I have been doing research on this issue and just thought of the possibility that the government could be involved and trying to keep it under wraps. Epidemiologists can not deny the evidence-based research of each and every case in Cameron. This is no coincidence in my opinion and I am very disappointed in the governments response to this public health issue.

  • SundayApril 23, 2011 at 12:04 am

    My Mother was a long time resident in Cameron. She passed away Aug.29, 2010 of a large brain tumor that was discovered 9 days before. I would like to know any contact information so I can do something in the name of my mom, Connie Murray. Does anyone have the information on who to contact for the lawsuit, or someone who can just talk to me....PLEASE Thank you for your time,

  • mendyMarch 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    My uncle just passed away last week from a brain tumor. He and his friend used to travel to Cameron every other week or so for business, fishing and hunting trips. He was one of the healthiest, most generous people I knew. He was 63 years old and in excellent physical condition. I'm 100% positive the exposure to the hexavalent chromium cost him his life.

  • kathyDecember 13, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Brain Tumors in Cameron are real. I have heard the prison is buildt on a on a land fill site that Rock- Wool secretly used. and Have heard there are plenty of workers out there that have had tumors.

  • DavidOctober 20, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I used to live in Stet Mo. Moved to Hartsel co. We are wanting to see some property in Cameron Mo. Then Iheard about BRAIN TUMORS in Cameron MO. I have one now and going thru chemo therapy Ido not want any of my family to have go thru what I have.

  • BethOctober 9, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Dear Nancy, My most lovely brother worked in Cameron and also died of Glioblastoma. I do not think it is a coincidence what-so-ever. My heart goes out to you and all the others who have suffered from this town of poison. Nobody ever wants anything like this to happen, but it does. Beth

  • PeggyAugust 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Just found out my husbands brain tumor is cancer and incurable.he s the one who worked in both places for a total of 40 years.Don t see why exposure to these chemicals inside the plant would nt be just as toxic and dangerous.He recently met up with an old co worker who had a brain tumor also.

  • DownsJuly 13, 2010 at 3:43 am

    What about the people who worked inside the Tannery .could they too be affected?My husband worked in Missouri for 15 years in the Tannery there.Twenty five years before that in Maine.He was just diagnosed with a brain Tumor.

  • DeniseOctober 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Bless you all. There is a similar situation in our neck of the woods so I understand what you are going through. I hope you get to the bottom of this soon. My heart goes out to all of you. Stay strong and fight the fight no matter what.

  • AngelaOctober 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    My husband has a job offer in Cameron Mo and it looks like a great town to raise our 2 kids in. My only concern is about these brain tumors that seem to be almost everywhere. If anybody could help us withour answers we would appreciate it. Thanks

  • gaylaJuly 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    My father died on june 11 2008 of a brain tumor that developed very fast. In Oct. of 2007 he had a ct scan done and there was no tumor there. Then in june of 2008 he fell into a coma, another ct scan was done and there was a tumor the size of an egg in the middle of his brain. He died a slow death. He lived near Camron, MO and went there every sunday for diner. I belive that he was exposted to[Show More]My father died on june 11 2008 of a brain tumor that developed very fast. In Oct. of 2007 he had a ct scan done and there was no tumor there. Then in june of 2008 he fell into a coma, another ct scan was done and there was a tumor the size of an egg in the middle of his brain. He died a slow death. He lived near Camron, MO and went there every sunday for diner. I belive that he was exposted to something there.

  • Annette FerrilJuly 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    My dad died on June 11,2008 from a fast growing brain tumor. He lived near Lathrop,Mo. And was a farmer in this area all his life. He went to Cameron nearly every Sunday to dine. All of this is too common to be nothimg to worry about.

  • Katie ZJuly 6, 2009 at 2:40 am

    So would it be safe to say that if possible to avoid moving to Cameron, MO? My husband has stumbled across a job opportunity there...

  • NancyJuly 4, 2009 at 6:28 am

    My husband, who lived in Cameron during his youth, also developed brain cancer - glioblastoma multiforme, to be exact. Glioblastoma is a terminal brain cancer which is very aggressive. Unfortunately, he passed away on June 4, 2009.

  • SteveJune 29, 2009 at 6:43 am

    We lived in Cameron, late '80s and up to 1997. Our son was 15 in 1995 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Cartilidge cancer that is suppose to effect men after age 40! Lord willing he will be diagnosed Cancer free this year. My mother in law lived in Cameron, longer than us, she died at age 56 of Clear Cell Cancer and pancreatic Cancer in 97. Brain tumors are bad, but this chromium stuff ca[Show More]We lived in Cameron, late '80s and up to 1997. Our son was 15 in 1995 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of Cartilidge cancer that is suppose to effect men after age 40! Lord willing he will be diagnosed Cancer free this year. My mother in law lived in Cameron, longer than us, she died at age 56 of Clear Cell Cancer and pancreatic Cancer in 97. Brain tumors are bad, but this chromium stuff can't be good for any one's body, brain included!

  • williamMay 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    brain tumor owned land around cameron resivor raising cows.from about 1992 to 1998 sppread lots of fertilizer sledge from st. joesph. was diadnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery a bout on april 27 2009 st the veterns hosp. in san francisco. no pathology yet

  • Defendant Ordered to Preserve Docs in Cameron Brain Tumor Lawsuit - AboutLawsuits.comMay 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    [...] Days after a lawsuit was filed against a tannery that allegedly provided waste sludge containing dangerous chemicals to local farmers for use as fertilizer, a judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the current owner of the company from destroying thousands of documents. The complaint indicates that the toxic sludge may have caused the development of a cluster of brain tumo[Show More][...] Days after a lawsuit was filed against a tannery that allegedly provided waste sludge containing dangerous chemicals to local farmers for use as fertilizer, a judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the current owner of the company from destroying thousands of documents. The complaint indicates that the toxic sludge may have caused the development of a cluster of brain tumors in Cameron, Missouri. [...]

  • SammieApril 29, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Brain tumors are no joke. My aunt died from one and once she died the entire family tore apart. Don't let a medical condition such as a brain tumor come between the ones you love. My aunts did and we almost lost everything.

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