Rig operator Transocean pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $400 million in criminal penalties for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and caused the worse offshore oil spill in US history.
A federal judge approved Transocean’s agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge. The fines are the second-largest environmental crime recovery in US history, behind the $4 billion criminal sentence imposed on BP in connection with the same disaster, the EPA said.. BP also has been temporarily suspended by the EPA from securing new contracts with the federal government.
Most of the $400 million in fines will go towards protecting and restoring the Gulf Coast region, US attorney general Eric Holder said. Of the $400 million, $150 million will go towards the environmental restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, while another $150 million will fund spill prevention and response efforts in the region.
The plea mandates that Louisiana receive half of the finds for restoration of barrier islands off the coast and river diversion projects to help rebuild marshland, reported Reuters.
Transocean also received five years of probation, the maximum term permitted by law. The company also has agreed to pay $1 billion for civil violations of the Clean Water Act. That plea will be approved separately.
This latest settlement doesn’t end Transocean’s legal issues stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The first phase of a trial, which aims to sort out the remaining civil claims related to the Gulf of Mexico spill, is scheduled to start Feb. 25.