Photo: BP oil spill (U.S. Coast Guard)
A federal judge on Tuesday accepted the agreement between BP and U.S. authorities under which the company agreed to pay $4.52 billion to settle criminal charges arising from the April 2010 crude spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The British oil firm, which operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges, including manslaughter in the deaths of 11 of its employees in the explosion at the rig.
Before ruling, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance heard emotional testimony from relatives of the 11 workers who died.
The Justice Department managed to get BP to commit to pay $4 billion over five years, while the firm will pay another $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission for hiding information from investors.
BP now has 60 days to remit a plan in which it specifies how it will comply with the requirements imposed by the court.
Once remitted, the plan will be reviewed and sent back to the oil company with the changes proposed by the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency.
Other federal cases against BP will continue to follow their courses along with the civil lawsuits against the firm that still have not been resolved.
The greater part of the fines, $2.4 billion, will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to pay for restoration work in the Gulf’s coastal areas.
The accident on the drilling platform allowed 4.9 million barrels of crude to gush out into the Gulf, harming wildlife and causing extensive damage to coastal habitats.