New York City has agreed to pay up to $657 million to settle more than 10,000 lawsuits filed by ground zero rescue and response workers who say they were sickened by World Trade Center dust.

The settlement was announced Thursday evening by the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a special entity established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The deal still must be approved by a judge and the workers themselves. It would make the city and other companies represented by the insurance company liable for a minimum of $575 million, with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.

Most of the money would come out of a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.