Department of Natural Resources notifies National Beef Leathers of storm water violations

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-283 For Immediate Release: Aug. 27, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has notified National Beef Leathers that it is in violation of Missouri Clean Water Law for allowing unpermitted Stormwater from its St. Joseph facility to flow off-site, eventually reaching the Missouri River.

The notice of violation was delivered to the facility on Aug. 21. The violation was first discovered during a Stormwater inspection that was part of a larger site inspection conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency between April 29 and May 4.

Follow up work done since the initial inspection confirmed the violation, which also stipulates that not only did the water leave the company's property, but also that the Stormwater was exposed to potential sources of contamination at the site. Some of those contaminates were identified in samples taken of the Stormwater, although none of them were found in excess of limits set by Missouri Clean Water Law.

National Beef Leathers has already begun working with Department staff to bring the facility back into compliance with Stormwater regulations. Representatives of the Department met with the company last Friday, Aug. 21, and reviewed the Stormwater issues that needed correction.

National Beef Leather's predecessor, Prime Tanning, sought termination of its Stormwater permit in 2005 claiming that site work done at the facility directed Stormwater into a combined sewer that then flowed into a wastewater treatment plant. Further evaluation by the Department following this spring's investigation found that Stormwater from the site enters waters of the state, including the Missouri River.   

To return to compliance with Missouri's clean water law, National Beef Leathers will need to reapply for and be granted a new Stormwater permit. The permit will require the company to cover or shield some materials that are exposed to rainfall, to test Stormwater discharges from the site regularly and to provide this information to the Department routinely.

The Stormwater investigation was part of an on-going investigation being conducted by the Department and EPA, with assistance from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The cooperative investigation into the St. Joseph leather tannery was opened in late April in response to public concerns about the tannery's distribution of sludge as agricultural fertilizer on northwest Missouri farms.  In July 2009, after sampling indicated the presence of chromium (VI) in some of the sludge and land application field samples, the Department withdrew the exemption for the application of the sludge as fertilizer.   

Samples collected during the inspection identified chromium (VI) in some sludge and surface soil samples at the facility; however, no chromium (VI) was identified in the Stormwater runoff. Initial sample results drawn from farm fields in northwest Missouri where the sludge was applied have identified the presence of chromium (VI) but not at levels that would be expected to pose a risk to human health. The findings did prompt a more extensive investigation, which is underway. 

Those with new information concerning National Beef Leathers or Prime Tanning may call the Department's toll-free line at 800-361-4827 or reach the Department by email at An environmental emergency -- where there is a current and on-going threat to human health and the environment -- can be reported to the Department's 24-hour spill line at 573-634-2436.