The Allied Chemical Corp. completed settlement this week of "virtually all" personal injury suits arising out of the manufacture of Kepone but has been blocked by angry Welshmen in its latest attempts to get rid of the highly toxic pesticide.
Allied, which has paid $18 million in publicly announced settlements arising from the making of Kepone in Hopewell, Va., had conrtacted with a firm in Pontypool, Wales, for a test burning of 78 barrels of the nowbanned substance.
But with environmentalists in the South Wales indutrial town threatening to blockade the local plant of Rechem International, Welsh health officials issued a prohibition order on the planned incineration.
Richard Gates, director of the Health and Safety Executive in Wales, told the Associated Press that the ban was imposed "to protect both workers at the plant and the public living nearby" and said it would remain in force until Rechem proves it can safely burn the cancer-causing nerve-attacking chemical.
A spokesman for Allied said the corporation was still confident it could convinced Welsh authorities that the burning process was safe. "We believe the appropriate local license will be issued once review is complete," the spokesman said.
The Allied spokesman also confirmed that out-of-court settlements had been reached with 30 men who had claimed they suffered injuries ranging from sterility to liver damage while helping produce Kepone before a July 1975 plant shutdown.
Settlements also were reached with eight wives and 12 infants exposed to Kepone through contcat with workers. The infants are to be paid $1,000 each; the size of payments to the adults were not disclosed.
The Allied spokesman said, "That means we have settled virtually all the personal injury suits." A suit by James River watermen alleging that Kepone pollution had damaged their ability to earn a living and a suit by William P. Moore, co-owner of Life Science Products, against Allied remain. Life Science produced Kepone for Allied until state health authorities investigating workers illnesses closed down the plant.
The Allied spikesman said the Welsh faclity "is ready and able" to do the job in an environmentally safe way. The hostile local reaction to the incineration of 4,400 gallons of Kepone at the Pontypool industrial waste facility was due to "exaggerated accounts of the nature of Kepone" in the British press, he said. Allied had cleared the disposal with the U.S. government and Environmental Protection Agency and the British government the spokesman said.
Rechem managing director Dr. Arthur Coleman said "Together with adapted our normal careful approach Allied Chemical's personnel, we have and formulated a special procedure for the operation," EPA official Gary Gardner said, "Incineration works. We know that. It's just being able to find a place in which it can be accomplished. Nobady wants this kind of compound moved to their area."
Gardner, director of the EPA office of Toxic Substances in Philadeljhia, said he was hopeful the 78 barrels could be burned in the Rechem plant and that the remaining Kepone also could be destroyed there. About 950 drums of Kepone and epone waste are stored in Baltimore and 640 drums and 1.5 million gallons of contaminated sludge are stored at two dumps in Vidginia.