Proposed settlement reached in W. Virginia Monsanto case
In a class-action lawsuit, residents of Nitro, W. Va., claim chemical giant Monsanto polluted the town with toxic substances. The company and town residents reached a settlement agreement Thursday.
For about two decades ending in 1971, the company produced an herbicide in Nitro that was used in Agent Orange. The suit alleges that the chemical plant is responsible for health problems many town residents are battling.
Though the judge in the case issued a gag order, Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette reporter Kate White says some clues to what the settlement may contain have emerged. The suit asked the company to pay millions of dollars to provide medical monitoring for town residents. The settlement may also require the company to clean up the town, White said.
(The judge) mentioned terms in the proposed settlement suggesting a cleanup would take place over the course of three years, and 1,500 residences would be cleaned -- 29 homes a week, six per day, 750 a year. The judge asked if that would be "feasible."
Earlier this month, NPR's Jeff Brady traveled to Nitro to report on the court case. Though most town residents are a part of the suit, Brady found that some have mixed feelings about the case.
Gertie Estep, 79, spent a decade working for a chemical plant; most of her family was employed by Monsanto, where she says the pay was good.
"We raised our families from those plants and we had no problems," says Estep, "Of course I know a lot of people in Nitro have had cancer, but I'm not sure [whether] they can blame that on the plants or not."
The judge overseeing the case has yet to sign off on the agreement.