BP cops to criminal charges, to pay record $4B fine for Gulf oil spill

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2012-11-15

According to CNN, oil giant BP has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice that will result in its pleading guilty to criminal charges connected to the Gulf Oil Spill. The result will be a fine of $4 billion paid over five years. That is the largest fine in US history, topping the previous record of $1.3 billion. Other details, which are still subject to judicial approval, will be announced later today.

The settlement will not end the company's legal liabilities. In addition to criminal issues, the company is likely to face fines due to the environmental damages it caused. Civil lawsuits are also pending. BP was not the only company responsible for the well, so legal wrangling could still go on for many years.

The spill was caused by the failure of hardware on the ocean floor at a newly drilled oil well. Because of the well's great depth and the high pressure with which oil and natural gas were escaping, it took weeks for hardware to successfully stop the flow. The result was one of the largest oil spills on record. The spill had a widespread impact on many Gulf communities, many of which rely on fisheries that were shut down or tourists who stayed away.

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