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News Brief

2010-11-10Northwest Missouri, MO |  By: Wayman

Sludge Findings

The waste came from a tannery and leather hide facility in St. Joseph. Starting in the early 1980's and continuing until last year, farmers used the free by-product as fertilizer in more than a hundred farm fields in Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton, and DeKalb counties- an area covering 56 thousand acres. The DNR study was one of the largest in state histroy- investingating 600 soil samples from 9 private groundwater wells, 19 farm fields, and 10 residential yards. Investigators were focused on the chemical hexavalent chromium found in the tannery sludge. The result: DNR spokeswoman Renee Bungart says the levels came in far below what the EPA has set as a health concern. They set that at 86 parts per million, and the highest level detected in the fields was 5 parts per million, which is well below the threshold of concern. The tannery has since stopped giving out the free sludge as fertilizer and is instead disposing it in a landfill in St. Joseph. I'm Kirk Wayman reporting.