Sandoz, the Swiss company whose plant leaked toxic chemicals into the Rhine River, pledged to pay "proven claims" for damage in one of Europe's worst ecological disasters. Gerhard Schmid, chief counsel to the chemical firm, said in Basel that it may take months to determine how much the company will have to pay. The company's insurance firm said that actual damages are believed to be less than $60 million, and Sandoz's maximum coverage was five times that much. West German authorities have said that the spill killed at least half a million fish and that organisms on which fish feed were severely affected. Four nations--Switzerland, West Germany, France and the Netherlands--were forced to shut down plants processing Rhine water for drinking.