Missouri Toxic Tort Lawsuits Filed Over Contamination Near Cameron

Two new toxic tort lawsuits were filed Friday over the spread of potentially cancer-causing sludge on farmland around Cameron, Missouri, a small town which has seen an unusually high number of brain tumors develop among residents in recent years.

According to the Kansas City Star, the lawsuits were filed in Clinton County Circuit Court on behalf of Beverly Long of Cameron and Cynthia McQueen of Nebraska.

The cases join at least two others that have been filed alleging that Prime Tanning Co., now owned by National Beef Leathers, distributed sludge laced with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, to local farmers for use as fertilizer.

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The toxic sludge has been cited as a possible cause of the spike in Cameron brain tumors, with at least 70 people in the town of only 10,000 developing brain tumors since 1996.

The sludge was created as a byproduct of removing hair from animal hides at the Prime Tanning Corp. tannery in nearby St. Joseph. Over the last 20 years, it was distributed for free to nearby farmers for use as fertilizer.

After the first Missouri toxic tort 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.

A prior lawsuit over the Cameron brain tumors filed last summer alleged that a Rockwool Insulation facility near the town was responsible for the problems by releasing chemicals and contaminants.

State and federal health investigators have not reached a conclusion about the cause of the tumors.


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