Transocean to pay $1.4 billion fine for Gulf oil spill

1:40 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
The 2010 BP Gulf oil spill is shown in this NASA satellite image.
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(USA TODAY) -- Transocean , the drilling company implicated in the three-month Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, will plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and pay a $1.4 billion fine, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Justice filed the agreement in a Louisiana court Thursday. A judge must approve the settlement.

In the agreement, Transocean admits criminal conduct and agrees to improve its safety procedures and emergency response at all its drilling rigs operating in U.S. waters, the Justice Department said.

Transocean's crew continued operating even after they saw signs of problems that resulted in the April 20, 2010 explosion that killed 11 rig workers and led to the largested oil spill in U.S. history, assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said.

The guilty plea acknowledges that the Transocean crew, under direction of BP's well-site company men, failed to investigate "clear indications" that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well, the Justice Department said.

The settlement "brings us one significant step closer to justice for the human, environmental and economic devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "This agreement holds Transocean criminally accountable for its conduct."

The order filed in court Thursday dedicates $150 million of a $400 million criminal fine to restoring coastal areas and barrier islands damaged by the spill.

Another $150 million will pay for improved oil spill prevention and response development and training. At least 80% of the $1 billion civil fine will fund environmental and economic projects in the five Gulf states affected by the spill.

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