Judge approves $4 bln BP oil spill criminal settlement
NEW ORLEANS– The Associated Press
File photo of controlled burn in the Gulf of Mexico seen in handout photograph. REUTERS PhotoA U.S. judge approved Jan. 29 an agreement for British oil giant BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company’s role in the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 200 million gallons of oil spewed in the three months before BP’s blown-out Macondo well could be capped. It was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving the deaths of 11 workers in the drilling rig explosion that started the spill and for lying to Congress about the size of the spill. The company could have withdrawn from the agreement if U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance had rejected it.
Neither the Justice Department nor BP presented arguments to the judge before her decision.
Vance said the plea deal was “just punishment” considering the risks of litigation for BP and the alternatives to the settlement. She told victims’ relatives who were in court that she read their “truly gut-wrenching” written statements and factored their words into her decision.