Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | June 18, 2009

Kentucky environmental lawyer Sanders says Prime Tanning is sued in Missouri for alledgedly giving farmers sludge laced with hexavalent chromium for use as fertilizer.

Prime Tanning Co., the former owner of a St. Joseph, Mo., tannery, is being sued over health concerns related to allegations that the plant’s sludge contained hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen.  

Prime Tanning apparently gave tons of the sludge to farmers to spread on their fields for use as fertilizer. As a result, sludge from the plant has been spread on thousands of acres of farmland in northwest Missouri since 1983

Lawsuits filed last month claim that the sludge contained hexavalent chromium.  The suit alleged a link between the sludge and brain tumors occurring in the area.  

In response to the lawsuit, Prime Tanning denies the link between the personal injuries alleged in the complaint and its sludge.  The company also denies the existence of hexavalent chromium in the plant’s sludge.  U.S. EPA is apparently testing the sludge to confirm the position of Prime Tanning.

Hexavalent chromium compounds are a group of chemical substances that contain the metallic element chromium in its positive-6 valence (hexavalent) state.

Chromium occurs in the environment primarily in two valence states, trivalent chromium and hexavalent chromium.  Chromium III is much less toxic than hexavalent chromium.  The respiratory tract is also the major target organ for chromium toxicity.

Indeed, according to research reports, hexavalent chromium will cause an increased risk of lung cancer. Other adverse health effects associated with hexavalent chromium exposure include dermal irritation, skin ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of the teeth.

Prime Tanning may to have regulatory problems arising from this mess in addition to defending the toxic tort lawsuits.  The company allegedly did not tell the state agency about its use of hexavalent chromium at the tanning plant in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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