Federal Judge Carl Barbier is overseeing the civil penalty portion of the disaster penalties.
NEW ORLEANS – British Petroleum has received the largest criminal penalty in history by its acceptance of a plea bargain with the U.S. Department of Justice that will see them pay $4.5 billion in criminal damages for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the events leading up to the disaster.
In the initial explosion that set off a chain of events resulting in the largest accidental oil spill in history 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon platform were killed and 17 others were injured.
The resulting oil spill spewed out an estimated 53,000 barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day from April 20 until Sept. 19, 2010 when the well was finally plugged.
The plea deal includes 11 charges of manslaughter for the deaths of workers aboard the platform at the time of the explosion as well as the admittance that a well safety test was not properly conducted. In addition to BP receiving criminal charges and penalties three of its workers were charged with felonies related to the incident, including for faulty well safety testing.
The highest profile charge came against BP vice-president of exploration Dave Rainey, who is accused of lying to federal investigators about the amount of oil leaking from the damaged well.
The criminal charges come in addition to civil penalty settlements being negotiated between BP, numerous plaintiffs' attorneys and state and federal governments in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Louisiana under the supervision of U.S. Judge Carl Barbier.
Those settlements are rumored to be coming closer to a conclusion that could see BP pay an estimated $20 billion to states affected by the spill for Clean Water Act violations in addition to nearly $8 billion for more than 100,000 individuals who claim property and economic losses due to the disaster.