US specialty chemicals company Solutia could be facing millions of dollars of claims after its former parent, Monsanto, was found guilty of pollution in a small US town.

The verdict is a victory for 3,500 residents in the Alabama town of Anniston, who have suffered for decades from pollutants in the rivers and land surrounding their homes.

However, it opens the way for other residents who are proceeding with claims in separate state trials. Almost 15,000 are planning to pursue a class action.

Solutia chairman and chief executive John Hunter said: "We are extremely disappointed with the jury's verdict.

"It's important to note that this is an interim step in a long process. There has been no decision reached with regard to damages."

Solutia, which was spun off from Monsanto in 1997, has already paid $80m (£56m) in out of court settlements and $40m (£28m) on clean-up operations.

Analysts have questioned whether it has enough insurance cover to pay any damages as well as the potential cost of other claims.

The company has said it had reserves and self-insurance, but commercial insurance provided most of its coverage.

The company was accused of covering up the contamination of rivers and land near its Anniston plant over a 50-year period