The settlement, which was approved on Friday, will be drawn from a federally financed insurance fund - the World Trade Center (WTC) Captive Insurance Company - created in 2004 with a $1b grant from the federal emergency management agency, set aside for health related claims stemming from the clean-up, recovery and restoration efforts.

"We have reached a settlement that is fair under difficult and complicated circumstances," Christine LaSala, president of WTC Captive Insurance company, said.

Compensation scale

"This agreement enables workers and volunteers claiming injury from the WTC site operations to obtain compensation commensurate with the nature of their injuries and the strength of their claims, while offering added protection against possible future illness," LaSala said.

Individual recoveries will range from thousands of dollars to more than $1m, according to a source familiar with the settlement.

Andrew Carboy, a lawyer representing a group of firefighters who say they fell ill after the September 11 attacks told Al Jazeera they are very happy with the settlement proposal.

"After six years of litigation, in our opinion this is the most satisfactory outcome that could have been achieved," he said.

To recover funds under the settlement, each plaintiff will have to submit proof that he or she was present at and participated in the rescue, recovery and debris removal operations.

Officials said they will have to provide specific medical documentation and a physician's diagnosis confirming their illness or injury.

"A private judge will access each claimants medical records and other information confirming that they were actually present at the WTC site before making a determination as to how much compensation that claimant should receive," Carboy said.

The plaintiffs will have 90 days to review the deal and decide whether to participate. The agreement requires that 95 per cent of the plaintiffs agree to the settlement.