Last week, a judge approved a $400 million plea deal by Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig involved in the nation’s worst offshore oil disaster three years ago this April. Transocean agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act on account of negligence. They will pay $400 million in criminal penalties and may pay an additional $1 billion in civil penalties if the judge approves that part of the proposed settlement. The $400 million penalty was approved on Thursday by Judge Jane Milazzo, Eastern District of Louisiana.
This news comes shortly after BP agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter for the deaths of the 11 men who were killed during the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon explosion. Judge Sarah Vance ruled that BP should pay $4 billion in penalties, making this the largest criminal penalty in US history. Transocean’s $400 million in criminal penalties is the second highest criminal environmental recovery in the nation’s history, after BP.
Some of Transocean’s combined $1.4 billion payment will hopefully go toward funding environmental restoration projects and spill-prevention research. As for BP, the plea deal calls for them to pay nearly $1.3 billion in fines, $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. This is exclusive of the more than $24 billion in spill-related fees that BP has already accumulated, and it is estimated that they will pay nearly double that by the time all of their penalties are resolved.
Earlier this month, BP was slammed with a new claim of $34 billion in alleged economic losses and damages. The claim comes from southern state governments including Louisiana and Mississippi, whose environments and economies were particularly devastated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.