Employee alleges dumping at tannery

3 August 2009

Missouri Department of Natural Resources officials said the radar would help to determine whether investigators needed to go back and dig at National Beef Leathers, which owns the tannery.

A complaint received July 10 by the Missouri attorney general's office alleged that barrels were buried there in 1985.

A former employee of Prime Tanning, the company that owned the tannery for decades until it was sold to National Beef in March, told an assistant attorney general that he saw barrels being buried, said Nanci Gonder, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. The employee did not know what the barrels contained.

The employee said that a hole was dug at the facility and drums were rolled in and then covered, according to notes of the conversation obtained by The Kansas City Star through open records requests. The attorney general's office and the DNR are investigating.

Lawsuits filed this year allege that sludge containing chromium 6 was spread on fields in four northwest Missouri counties, causing brain tumours in some surrounding communities. Earlier in July the DNR said that the tannery was probably not the cause of the brain tumours. The Environmental Protection Agency had conducted tests on local farmland where the tannery sludge had been spread on the land. Tests conducted by DNR found low levels of chromium 6 in the soil of some of the fields where the sludge was spread but not in high enough levels to pose a health risk. The DNR is collecting more soil samples.

Source: The Kansas City Star

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