November 15, 2012
BP To Pay Largest Criminal Settlement In U.S. History
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, subjecting America´s Gulf Coast region to the single largest offshore oil spill in history. The effects of this oil spill are still being felt by the lands surrounding the area, the wildlife who called the area home and the people who made their living from industries in the region.
There´s a bit of justice that´s been served today, as British Petroleum (BP) has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges stemming from the spill, paying out $4.5 billion in damages, including an additional $1.26 billion in criminal fees.
The disaster, which took place nearly 3 years ago, not only wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast region, but also claimed the life of 11 workers on board the rig when it exploded.
Now, what could easily be considered one of the world´s worst man-made tragedies has now led to the largest criminal settlement in American history, according to an unnamed official cited by Bloomberg.
BP will plead guilty to obstruction of justice, while 2 of their employees face manslaughter charges over the 11 deaths onboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, according to this unnamed official.
This decision must now be made official and is subject to approval by a U.S. Federal Court.
Furthermore, BP is expected to plead guilty to a pair of environmental misdemeanors, including one count under the Clean Water Act and another count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As further restitution, BP has said they will pay out $2.394 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation over the next 5 years, as well as $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences during the same period.
BP will also pay out $525 million in penalties over the next 3 years to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which stems from their reporting of the oil flow rates immediately following the spill.
One executive, David Rainey, is facing a federal indictment for lying when federal investigators asked him how the company calculated how much oil had been spilled in the 2 weeks following the explosion. At the time, Rainey was the vice president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico.
"We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions," said BP´s chief executiveBob Dudley in a statement.
The company has now said they will begin to review their risk and management procedures in the Gulf of Mexico, recommending improvements where needed. They´ll also be appointing an ethics monitor to review their code of conduct.
While BP has agreed to pay out exorbitant amounts of money and plead guilty to felony charges, the clean up effort continues in the Gulf Coast. In September, Louisiana State University conducted research and found that the oil-eating bacteria, which was dispersed to help remove the toxic material from the Gulf had been quite effective, saying, to date, the bacteria had already devoured at least 200,000 tons of spilled oil and gas.