Monsanto Settles West Virginia Lawsuits Over Nitro Plant

Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed company, agreed to settle all pending litigation relating to dioxin contamination from a plant in Nitro, West Virginia, that produced Agent Orange herbicide decades ago.

The settlements to the litigation, which include class-action lawsuits filed in the state, provide as much as $9 million to have 4,500 homes professionally cleaned, St. Louis-based Monsanto said today in a statement. Monsanto also will provide as much as $84 million over 30 years for medical monitoring of current and former residents, workers and students, and it will pay the community’s legal fees and court costs over the past seven years.

The plant, which operated from 1929 to 2004 under various owners, produced Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War to defoliate jungle vegetation. The process to make Agent Orange was found to produce dioxins, which are linked to cancer and other ailments. Monsanto hasn’t made Agent Orange since 1969.

“We are please to resolve this matter and end any concerns about historic operations at the Nitro plant,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto counsel, said in the statement.

The settlements will reduce net income in fiscal 2012 by about 5 cents a share, Monsanto said. Kelli Powers, a company spokeswoman, declined to quantify any costs in subsequent years.

“The settlements provide needed medical benefits and remediation services to the people of Nitro and broader community,” Stuart Caldwell, class counsel, said in the statement.

An official at the Putnam County Circuit Court said that there wasn’t a court filing about a settlement.