NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The owners of a drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico will pay a $1 billion civil fine for the ensuing record oil leak, a federal judge said.
The fine is part of a settlement reached between the government and Transocean Ltd., the Swiss company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig for British oil producer BP that exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the uncontrolled 87-day leak that spilled more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the gulf.
The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday Transocean also has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it violated the Clean Water Act. A fine of $400 million was levied by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche, the largest such criminal fine ever under the Clean Water Act.
Congress passed a law last year requiring that at least 80 percent of any fines, settlements or jury awards relating to the gulf oil spill be spent on economic restoration projects in the region.