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BP Faces $13.7 Billion Fine in Final Stage of Oil Spill Trial
Next week, the civil trial against British Petroleum will enter its third and final stage as a New Orleans federal judge determines how much the corporation should pay in penalties. The case pertains to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 men and spewed massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP is facing the largest oil pollution penalty in U.S. legal history, potentially $13.7 billion, which is the maximum amount under federal law.
Oil corporations and litigation experts are both closely watching this trial, the largest case of its kind the U.S. legal system has ever seen. Following the penalties spelled out under the federal Clean Water Act, the outcome of this trial will be a precedent for future cases concerning major oil spills in the U.S. Environmentalists are hopeful that such hefty fines will serve as a cautionary tale to oil companies so they avoid the kind of negligence that contributed to the Deepwater Horizon spill.
This civil suit has consisted of three parts. First, in 2013, the court determined that BP was indeed to blame for the spill and "grossly negligent" in its actions. The second phase concluded how many barrels of oils were spilled over the course of the 87 days before it was stopped-3.19 million. By comparison, the trial for the Exxon Valdez spill in 1991 lasted for 20 years, resulting in $1 billion paid in penalties. This trial has moved much faster, partly due to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's decision to try the case by maritime law without a jury. Whatever fines come out of this case would be on top of the $28 billion the company has already paid toward cleanup efforts, lawsuits, and damage claims.
Counting the Cost: Corporations and Human Rights Abuses in the Niger Delta (via Platform London)
"The past decade in the Delta has brought brutal government crackdowns, the rise of armed groups and a multiplicity of intense conflicts. While primary responsibility for human rights violations falls on the Nigerian government and other perpetrators, Shell has played an active role in fuelling conflict and violence in a variety of forms."
Shell to Pay $83 Million Settlement for Nigeria Oil Spills (via Bloomberg)
Telltale Rainbow Sheens Reveal Thousands Of Unreported Oil Spills In The Gulf (via WWNO, University of New Orleans)
Chinese Oil Spill Half The Size Of London Went Unreported For A Month (via The Guardian)
Recent and Historic Oil Spills at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (via the Utah Bureau of Land Management)