WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Chemical giant Monsanto has agreed to pay millions of dollars to test thousands of current and former Nitro residents for disease and to clean up their homes.
Under the tentative agreement to a huge class-action lawsuit, Monsanto will provide class-members up to $93 million. The company has agreed to a 30-year medical monitoring program with a primary fund of $21 million for testing, and up to $63 million in additional funding, if necessary.
Monsanto also will pay $9 million for professional services to have class members' homes cleaned. It also has agreed to pay court-approved legal fees incurred over the past seven years.
Circuit Judge Derek Swope mentioned the proposed settlement in a hearing Thursday in Putnam Circuit Court, and the agreement was officially announced in court Friday.
In their huge class-action lawsuit filed in 2004, Nitro residents said Monsanto unsafely burned dioxin wastes and spread contaminated soot and dust across the city, polluting homes with unsafe levels of the chemical.
The residents' lawsuit sought medical monitoring for at least 5,000 - and perhaps as many as 80,000 -- current and former Nitro residents.
For more than 50 years, the Monsanto plant churned out herbicides, rubber products and other chemicals. The plant's production of the defoliant Agent Orange created dioxin as a toxic chemical byproduct.
On Friday, Swope approved the proposed settlement, which he said lawyers had worked on until 1 a.m. that morning.
Charleston lawyer Thomas Urban, who represents some Nitro residents, filed a motion Friday after the hearing, raising questions about the sufficiency of the settlement.
Among other things, Urban asked why the settlement sets a $9 million amount for cleanup, when an expert for the residents said cleanup could cost between $945 million and $3.82 billion.