Deepwater Horizon rig owner to pay $1.4B for Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The offshore oil and gas drilling company Transocean has agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement with the Justice Department to resolve civil and criminal claims against the company for its role in the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased by BP. The rig exploded and sank after the Macondo well blew out, killing 11 workers and spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf.
In a statement, Transocean said that as part of the settlement, a “subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for negligent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and pay $1.4 billion in fines, recoveries and penalties, excluding interest.”
Along with BP, Transocean was criticized repeatedly by various independent panels that reviewed the spill for its role in a highly dangerous deep-water drilling project that was marked by lax safety, poor communication and ad hoc decision-making.
In November, BP agreed to pay a $4 billion criminal fine — the largest in U.S. history — and two of its employees were charged with manslaughter in connection with the deaths of the Deepwater Horizon workers.
The Transocean settlement concludes the Justice Department's criminal investigation of the company and resolves civil claims against it.
“This resolution of criminal allegations and civil claims against Transocean brings us one significant step closer to justice for the human, environmental and economic devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.
The $1 billion civil penalty is the largest civil environmental penalty to date, according to David Uhlmann, a former chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes section and a law professor at the University of Michigan. Some of the money will go to coastal habitat restoration efforts and to research into oil spill prevention by the National Academy of Sciences, Transocean said.
Uhlmann commended the Justice Department for the $1 billion civil penalty but questioned aspects of the criminal settlement, including the much smaller criminal fine of $400 million.
“The Justice Department typically tries to get at least the same amount for a criminal violation as a civil one because the thinking is that criminal behavior constitutes more serious misconduct,” Uhlmann said. “It's also surprising that the Justice Department decided not to charge Transocean with manslaughter, since the same negligence that caused the oil spill caused the death of 11 Transocean employees.”
The next major legal dispute that needs to be resolved is the scope of the civil penalties against BP. A trial is set for February, but the charges could be settled before then.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
- Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation
- Toomey instrumental in derailing Justice nominee
- 273 cited in Ohio in year for texting, driving
- Officer among 3 men killed in Ohio club shooting
- Consensus on how to notify data breach victims lacks
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Americans riding public transit in record numbers
- 2 dozen injured as California school stage falls