Monsanto Settles Nitro, WV Agent Orange Cases

A judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement involving activities done 40-60 years ago at the company's former plant in the West Virginia city, an industrialized suburb of the state capital, Charleston.

Monsanto announced that a state judge granted preliminary approval of a settlement of lawsuits and potential class actions involving a plant it formerly operated in Nitro, W.Va. A herbicide produced there was a component of Agent Orange, the Vietnam War-era defoliant, and the litigation alleged that work done at the plant sickened thousands of residents.

Announced Feb. 24, the settlement sets up a 30-year medical monitoring program at a local hospital and allows people who lived, worked, or attended school in the Nitro area during the period covered by the lawsuit to apply for benefits, according to the St. Louis-based company. It said the settlement will resolve all pending litigation as well as class actions filed in West Virginia.

Free professional cleaning of about 4,500 homes will be available and will be paid for by a $9 million fund. Another $21 million fund will pay for eligible class members' medical testing and up to $63 million for the 30-year medical screening program.

"These settlements ensure that both individual and community concerns are addressed and services are made available for the people of Nitro," said Scott Partridge, vice president of Monsanto Company. "We are pleased to resolve this matter and end any concerns about historic operations at the Nitro plant."

"The settlements provide needed medical benefits and remediation services to the people of Nitro and broader community," said Class Counsel Stuart Calwell of The Calwell Practice PLLC. "The principal goal of the litigation was to provide long-term medical monitoring and to provide professional cleaning of individual homes."

The plant operated from 1929 to 2004. It previously was owned and operated by Pharmacia and later by Flexsys, a joint venture between Solutia and Akzo Nobel Chemicals, Inc. Monsanto Company was spun out from Pharmacia in 2000 and assumed certain obligations related to Solutia's former chemical business, including the Nitro claims being settled. The settlement made no findings of wrongdoing against Monsanto or any company that previously owned or operated the site.

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