BP faces huge fine for 2006 oil spill

May 4, 2011 at 7:38 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- A $25 million fine slapped on BP for 2006 oil spills in the North Slope of Alaska is as a warning to pipeline operators in the United States, a regulator said.

BP Exploration Alaska Inc. is to pay $25 million in civil penalties and was ordered to implement a system-wide pipeline management program in response to a 2006 oil spill from pipelines on the North Slope.

Cynthia Giles, an enforcement officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the Clean Water Act gives authorities the right to impose higher fines on pipeline operators who don't follow the rules.

"Today's settlement with BP Alaska imposes a tough penalty and requires the company to take action to prevent future pipeline oil spills on the Alaska North Slope," she said in a statement.

BP in 2006 was responsible for two spills on the North Slope of just more than 5,000 barrels of crude oil. Investigators with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration found that BP didn't inspect the pipelines for corrosion. BP was referred to justice officials when it failed to comply with PHMSA recommendations fully.

BP under the settlement agreed to develop a program to better monitor the 1,600 miles of pipelines on the North Slope.

"This penalty is a stern reminder to pipeline operators to follow orders issued by PHMSA or risk a federal civil lawsuit and steep fines," PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman said in a statement.

The EPA said the fine is the largest per-barrel penalty ever imposed for an oil spill in the United States.

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