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7 US chemical firms OK Agent Orange claim fund

Seven US chemical companies agreed Monday to set up a $180 million trust fund to settle claims by thousands of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

US District Judge Jack B. Weinstein announced the tentative out-of-court settlement as jury selection was to begin a class-action trial of the veterans' damage claims. Judge Weinstein said he would withhold his approval of the settlement until public hearings were held to determine whether it was fair.

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At least 10 million gallons of the herbicide were used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam from 1965 to 1970 to help reduce the chances of ambush. Troops exposed to the defoliant have blamed it for a variety of health problems.

The companies that produced the herbicide are Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock, T.H. Agricultural & Nutrition, Thompson Chemical, Hercules, and Uniroyal.

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