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State Supreme Court upholds Monsanto pollution settlement with Nitro

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The approval of a settlement in a lawsuit over pollution of the community of Nitro with dioxin from the former Monsanto chemical plant has been upheld by the state Supreme Court.

By a 4-1 vote Friday, the High Court affirmed a January ruling made by Circuit Judge Derek Swope in the case.

Swope approved the class-action settlement which was meant to resolve long-standing allegations that Monsanto had contaminated Nitro with toxic pollution from the production of the defoliant Agent Orange.

The court stated in its 14-page decision that it found “no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error” in Swope’s settlement approval order.

Under the settlement worth $93 million, many Nitro residents would be eligible to receive medical monitoring and property cleanups.

The former Monsanto plant produced various chemicals for more 50 years, including Agent Orange, a defoliant deployed widely in the Vietnam War.

It was with Agent Orange where concerns were raised by residents because its production creates dioxin as a toxic chemical byproduct. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other medical illnesses.

Before the beginning of a six month trial, Monsanto agreed to the settlement in February 2012.

The agreement involved a 30-year medical monitoring program with a primary fund of $21 million for initial testing and up to $63 million in additional money depending on what levels of dioxin are found in residents.

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