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Monsanto Settles Dioxins Suits

Monsanto will pay up to $93 million to settle Agent Orange lawsuits

by Marc S. Reisch
March 5, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 10

Monsanto has agreed to pay up to $93 million to settle health and property damage claims by workers and people who lived near a now-shuttered plant in Nitro, W.Va., where the company once made an ingredient for the herbicide Agent Orange.

“We are pleased to resolve this matter,” says Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge.

Plaintiff attorney Stuart Calwell says, “The settlements provide needed medical benefits and remediation services.”

The agreement ends a class-action lawsuit filed in 2004 and a total of 200 separate single-plaintiff actions filed in 2007 and 2009. A West Virginia state court must hold a fairness hearing before the settlements take effect.

Between 1949 and 1969 Monsanto’s Nitro plant made 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, an active ingredient in Agent Orange. The suits allege that waste dioxins from the Nitro plant contaminated the town. Dioxins are associated with a variety of ill health effects, including cancer.

Under the agreement, Monsanto will pay up to $84 million to fund a 30-year medical monitoring program at a local hospital. The program will cover thousands of current and former residents, as well as workers at the plant, which made a variety of chemicals between 1929 and 2004. Monsanto also will pay up to $9 million to clean 4,500 homes that may be contaminated with dioxin.

Monsanto produces herbicides and gene-modified crop seeds. The firm spun off its chemical operations as Solutia in 1997 but took responsibility for legacy operations after Solutia sought bankruptcy protection in 2003.


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