Missouri Tannery Sludge Lawsuits Filed by Landowners Near Brain Tumor Cluster
The owners of a St. Joseph, Missouri, tannery are being sued by at least two dozen landowners who say that allegedly toxic sludge the tannery gave to local farmers as fertilizer has damaged their land. The same sludge is suspected in connection to a high number of brain tumors in Missouri near Cameron.
The tannery sludge lawsuit was filed earlier this month in Buchanan County Circuit Court by owners of farm land who say that fertilizer given to farmers from a Prime Tanning Corp. facility contained hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen which they will now have to clean up. The sludge, given to local farmers since 1983, is a byproduct of the facility’s tanning process.
The tannery is currently owned by National Beef Co., which purchased the facility in March. Both National Beef and Prime Tanning are defendants in the lawsuit. Defendants named in the lawsuit also include chromium chemicals manufacturer Elementis LTP and the Burns and McDonnell engineering firm of Kansas City, which designed the system that created the tannery’s fertilizer.
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The lawsuit alleges that the tannery tried changing hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6, into a less harmful form known as trivalent chromium. However, the plaintiffs contend that the process failed and that the chromium changed back into chromium 6.
The landowner lawsuit follows a series of toxic tort lawsuits filed since April 2009 by residents of nearby Cameron, Missouri, who say that the toxic sludge causes brain cancer. There is an unusual spike of brain tumors in Cameron, with at least 70 people in the town of only 10,000 developing brain tumors since 1996.
After the first Missouri brain tumor lawsuits were filed over the sludge in April 2009, Clinton County Judge Brent Elliot granted a motion for a temporary restraining order that prevented National Beef Leathers from destroying 80 pallets of old Prime Tanning Co. documents they determined were no longer needed.
This summer federal investigators confirmed that trace amounts of hexavalent chromium was found in three of the four counties around the tannery, however regulators determined that the levels were not high enough to threaten human health.
Investigators have yet to reach a conclusion about the cause of the tumors, and a lawsuit filed in 2008 alleged that a Rockwool Insulation facility near the town was responsible for the problems by releasing chemicals and contaminants.
CarolynDecember 31, 2009 at 5:18 pm
Where there is smoke, there is fire! How would you feel if it were your relative who was diagnosed with a brain tumor?!! Those who say the levels were not high enough to threaten human health should move to Cameron!! May these folks look to God for healing and to an attorney for compensation!! My son used to work in Cameron. I am so thankful that he was only there periodically. Thanks to your n[Show More]Where there is smoke, there is fire! How would you feel if it were your relative who was diagnosed with a brain tumor?!! Those who say the levels were not high enough to threaten human health should move to Cameron!! May these folks look to God for healing and to an attorney for compensation!! My son used to work in Cameron. I am so thankful that he was only there periodically. Thanks to your news reports about these tumors, he started carrying bottled water when he was scheduled to work there.
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