July 2, 2015 — After five years of litigation, BP has reached a $18.7 billion settlement following a deadly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The payment includes at least $12.8 billion for Clean Water Act fines and natural resource damage, plus $4.9 billion to the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
It comes on top of $43.8 billion that BP has already set aside for criminal, civil, and cleanup costs, Reuters reports.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch applauded the proposal, and said:
“If approved by the court, this settlement would be the largest settlement with a single entity in American history. It would help repair the damage done to the Gulf economy, fisheries, wetlands and wildlife; and it would bring lasting benefits to the Gulf region for generations to come.”
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and releasing millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It took nearly three months before the well was capped and an estimated 134 million gallons of oil spilled. More than 1,000 miles of shoreline and a vast section of the seafloor were soiled.
In September 2014, a judge in New Orleans found that BP’s conduct was “grossly negligent,” which quadrupled the maximum civil penalty BP could face under the Clean Water Act.
The New York Times reports that BP has continued to push an advertising campaign arguing that the economy has recovered faster than expected, but environmentalists say it is still too early to measure the full impact of the spill.
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