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Transocean to pay record $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines and penalties for role in Deepwater Horizon disaster

Transocean Deepwater Inc., the owner of the drilling rig Deepwater Horion, agreed to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and to pay a total of $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines and penalties, for its conduct in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The criminal information, and a proposed partial civil consent decree to resolve the US government’s civil penalty claims against Transocean Deepwater Inc. and related entities were filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Transocean Deepwater Inc. also signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement with the government admitting its criminal conduct. As part of the plea agreement, Transocean Deepwater Inc. agreed, subject to the court’s approval, to pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties and to continue its on-going cooperation in the government’s criminal investigation.

In addition, pursuant to the terms of a proposed partial civil consent decree also lodged with the court today, Transocean Ocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., Transocean Deepwater Inc. and Triton Asset Leasing GMBH have agreed to pay an additional $1 billion to resolve federal Clean Water Act civil penalty claims for the massive, three-month-long oil spill at the Macondo Well and the Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.

Under the civil settlement, the Transocean defendants also must implement court-enforceable measures to improve the operational safety and emergency response capabilities at all their drilling rigs working in waters of the United States.

According to court documents, on 20 April 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions and fire, which resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the largest oil spill in US history. In agreeing to plead guilty, Transocean Deepwater Inc. has admitted that members of its crew onboard the Deepwater Horizon, acting at the direction of BP’s “Well Site Leaders” or “company men,” were negligent in failing fully to investigate clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.

The criminal resolution is structured to directly benefit the Gulf region. Under the order presented to the court, $150 million of the $400 million criminal recovery is dedicated to acquiring, restoring, preserving and conserving—in consultation with appropriate state and other resource managers—the marine and coastal environments, ecosystems and bird and wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and bordering states harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This portion of the criminal recovery will also be directed to significant barrier island restoration and/or river diversion off the coast of Louisiana to further benefit and improve coastal wetlands affected by the oil spill. An additional $150 million will be used to fund improved oil spill prevention and response efforts in the Gulf through research, development, education and training.

The civil settlement secures $1 billion in civil penalties for violations of the CWA, a record amount that significantly exceeds last year’s $70 million civil penalty paid by MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, a 10% partner with BP in the Macondo well venture. The unprecedented $1 billion civil penalty is subject to the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (Restore Act), which provides that 80 percent of the penalty will be to be used to fund projects in and for the Gulf states for the environmental and economic benefit of the region. This civil resolution reserves claims for natural resource damages and clean-up costs.

Under the civil settlement, the Transocean defendants must also observe various court-enforceable strictures in its drilling operations, aimed at reducing the chances of another blowout and discharge of oil and at improving emergency response capabilities. Examples of these requirements include certifications of maintenance and repair of blowout preventers before each new drilling job, consideration of process safety risks, and personnel training related to oil spills and responses to other emergencies. These measures apply to all rigs operated or owned by the Transocean defendants in all US waters and will be in place for at least five years.

The guilty plea agreement and criminal charge announced today are part of the ongoing criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force into matters related to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill. The Deepwater Horizon Task Force, based in New Orleans, is supervised by Assistant Attorney General Breuer and led by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John D. Buretta, who serves as the director of the task force. The task force includes prosecutors from the Criminal Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, as well as other US Attorneys’ Offices; and investigating agents from the FBI, EPA, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, US Coast Guard, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The civil resolution announced today is part of the ongoing litigation against defendants BP Exploration and Production Inc., the Transocean defendants, and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (among others) for civil penalties, injunctive relief, and a declaration of unlimited liability for removal costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act. The civil enforcement effort is supervised by Assistant Attorney General Moreno for the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Hauck of the Civil Division. Numerous federal agencies have contributed immeasurably to these enforcement and settlement efforts, including the EPA, the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture.

The criminal case against Transocean is being prosecuted by Deepwater Horizon Task Force Deputy Directors Derek A. Cohen and Avi Gesser, and task force prosecutors Richard R. Pickens II, Scott M. Cullen, Colin Black and Rohan Virginkar. Numerous Environment Division and Civil Division lawyers are pursuing the civil enforcement action, led by Steve O’Rourke and R. Michael Underhill.



And to think Toyota's floor mats merited the $billion "settlement" scale of millions of ruined Gulf/seafood/real estate jobs/businesses, beaches, sea floor acres, wetlands, etc. with perhaps "Make payable to GM" in the small print.


Remember they were only one of many companies at fault for the disaaster and only partly at fault at that. The total fines for every company involved will be quite large id expect.

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