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Tighter rules urged in light of BP fine

Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:12 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Tighter safety standards for offshore drilling are needed now that BP agreed to pay $4 billion for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a lawmaker said.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that it filed a multiple-count charge against BP, which includes felony manslaughter charges, related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

"BP has agreed to plead guilty to all 14 criminal charges -- admitting responsibility for the deaths of 11 people and the events that led to an unprecedented environmental catastrophe," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. "The company also has agreed to pay $4 billion in fines and penalties."

A faulty cementing process used in the Macondo well was cited as one of the cascading series of events that led to the explosion and eventual sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The explosion left 11 rig workers dead and resulted in the worst accidental offshore oil spill in the history of the industry.

Charges were filed against David Rainey, a former BP executive, for making false statements to law enforcement officials while serving as a BP representative during the spill response.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said lawmakers need to raise safety standards for offshore drilling.

"This settlement may have closed a chapter of this disaster with the government, but we still have a responsibility to monitor the lingering effects from the spill and put in place new laws that reduce the likelihood of such a catastrophe occurring ever again," he said in a statement.

The Justice Department said the criminal fine is the single largest penalty ever imposed in U.S. history. BP, in a statement, said the resolution was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.

Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon, and Halliburton, which carried out the cementing work, may face charges yet in relation to the incident.

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