BP agree to pay $18.7bn fine
Record environmental fine for fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
BP has agreed to pay a record environmental fine of $18.7bn to settle legal actions brought by the US and several states over the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The US justice department, along with the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida, all sued BP for damages not covered by the company’s earlier settlements with businesses and individuals harmed by the worst offshore spill in US history.
In September 2014, Judge Carl Barbier, who had overseen the tortuous legal case resulting from the disaster, ruled BP had been “grossly negligent” in its handling of the well. The decision opened up BP to the highest possible fines.
The company will pay $7.1bn in “natural resource damage assessment”, and the money will be divided among the states and earmarked for environmental clean up projects related to the spill. BP was fined $5.5bn under the Clean Water Act.
Some environmentalists were disappointed with the fine, which has yet to receive court approval. Jacqueline Savitz, vice-president for Oceana in the US, said: “If the court approves this proposal, BP will be getting off easy and ‘we the people’ will not be fully compensated for the natural resource damages that we suffered.”
The 2010 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig cost 11 lives and resulted in 4.2m barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf over 87 days, according to the US government.
BP argued the volume of the spill was far lower. The spill affected the shore of the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida.
More than five years after the disaster, environmentalists and Gulf residents are still counting the cost. Fatalities among dolphins and other marine life have surged in the spill’s aftermath.
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