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Judge rules gross negligence in 2010 BP Gulf Coast oil spill

BP Oil Spill gulf coast-slide0
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Today a judge has ruled that British Petroleum’s gross negligence caused it to take on the majority of the responsibility for the oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010. Though it’s nothing we don’t already know, today a U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier portioned out blame by percentage. This ruling will add even more fines onto BP’s pile.

Gulf coast oil spill
Photo by U.S. Navy/Getty Images

In his 153-page ruling, Barbier attributes BP’s profit-based decision-making process as to what ultimately led to the leak that lasted for 87 days in 2010. The judge noted that BP was 67 percent responsible, drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. was 30 percent responsible and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service was given 3 percent responsibility.

This means that on top of the penalties the company has already paid in civil fines, they could have $17.6 billion more added on, under the Clean Water Act. Under the act, a company can be forced to pay either a maximum of $1,100 per barrel or $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled. The latter figure reflects the cost if the company is found grossly negligent, which was established with Barbier’s ruling.

The company stated it has already spent $24 million in expenses relating to the spill, which include cleanup costs as well as paying out to businesses and individuals who feel they were harmed financially by the spill. The company has estimated that it will pay $42 billion to resolve its spill-related liability costs.

BP has already announced via press release that the company will be seeking to appeal the ruling, basically saying the judge did not have an impartial view of the case. They stated that proving gross negligence according to the law is difficult to actually do and that evidence at the trial was not able to truly prove gross negligence.

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