Local Business In Trouble Over Out-of-State Plant 

A Maine-based company whose Missouri factory gave area farmers fertilizer that critics say contained a cancer-causing chemical is disputing the claims and defending its environmental record.Prime Tanning Corp., of Hartland, responded to a lawsuit that accuses it of knowingly distributing sludge containing a known carcinogen as free fertilizer to farmers in four counties.Environmental activist Erin Brockovich says the chemical in question — Hexavalent Chromium — may be linked to what some area residents believe is a high number of brain tumors in the region.Prime Tanning vice president Grover Elliott says the company believes the claims are baseless and it looks forward to cooperating with state and federal investigators.