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In Houston, chemical companies and a developer have agreed to a $208 million settlement under which they will buy up more than 200 homes near the Brio Superfund site, a toxic waste dump, and pay for 700 area children to go to college.... In Chicago, Chemical Waste Management has agreed to pay a $3 million fine for falsifying records and for sloppy practices that led to a 1991 explosion at its hazardous waste incinerator, officials said. ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

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Japan's Nikkei Stock Average plunged almost 600 points to 15,921.22 points yesterday, dropping below 16,000 for the first time in five and a half years.... International Business Machines and the Toshiba Corp. are planning an alliance to develop flash memory chips, an IBM spokesman said Monday. Unlike current memory chips, flash chips can retain information even when the electric current has been switched off. They may replace hard disk drives.... The German luxury carmaker BMW has decided to build a new

factory in Spartanburg, S.C., company sources said yesterday. The factory is expected to cost $625 million and to employ about 2,000 workers by the year 2000. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Vietnam's foreign minister yesterday called for China to rescind a controversial agreement with an American company to explore for oil and gas in the disputed Spratly Islands. LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello in a televised address late Sunday angrily denied accusations that he knew of corruption within his government.

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