KCUR News
4:51 pm
Thu July 2, 2009

Chemical Detected In NW Missouri Soil, Officials Say Levels Not Hazardous

Kansas City, MO – Environmental officials have announced that sludge from a St. Joseph Tannery does not in fact pose any public health hazard. A recent lawsuit had alleged a link between several brain tumors in area residents and the tannery sludge.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of natural resources have revealed initial results of an ongoing investigation of fertilizer sludge which National Beef Leathers distributed to farms throughout Northwest Missouri. The findings show soil samples they took from a few farms do contain a potentially hazardous form of chromium, but Scott Clardy with the Missouri Department of Health says the amount detected is not harmful.

CLARDY:"The levels of hexavalent chromium observed in the four properties that were sampled are not a potential health concern, even for farmers who routinely work these fields, nor for the families who live near these fields."

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources says it's also cited National Beef for hazardous waste violations, following an inspection of the actual tannery. As a result, the company will no longer be able to distribute its sludge for land use.

Environmental officials say they're planning further tests of area farmlands. They're also having a public meeting in St. Joseph next week to discuss the preliminary findings.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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