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ST. JOSEPH, MO. - At least two dozen northwest Missouri landowners have filed a lawsuit against the former and current owners of a St. Joseph tannery that provided chromium-tainted sludge for use as fertilizer on their farms.

In a suit filed Thursday in Buchanan County Circuit Court, the plaintiffs accuse Prime Tanning Corp., which owned the tannery until March, and National Beef Co., the new owner, of causing damage to their farmland by providing the sludge and failing to warn property owners that it contained chromium.

The plaintiffs also are suing the Milwaukee-based chemical company Elementis LTP, which claims to be the world's largest producer of chromium chemicals, and the Kansas City engineering firm Burns and McDonnell, which designed the system to produce the fertilizer.

Earlier this year, the tannery came under investigation to determine whether sludge provided in four northwest Missouri counties could have caused a cluster of brain tumors.