By Bryan Dyne,wsws.org – Transocean Deepwater Inc. has settled for only $1.4 billion towards all criminal and civil claims relating to the company’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in 2010, which leaked 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico and killed eleven workers. The settlement was announced by the Department of Justice on Thursday.
The settlement, which must still be approved by US District Judge Carl Barbier, precludes other criminal fines that would have arisen if Transocean went to trial in New Orleans over the spill, which was set to begin February 25. Furthermore, the settlement will not require Transocean to plead guilty to any crime relating to the deaths of the eleven workers killed on the oil rig, in contrast to BP, which pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.
The deal consists of criminal penalties and fines of $400 million. $150 million of the criminal settlement goes towards restoring the habitats in the Gulf of Mexico that were affected by the spill and a further $150 million will go towards oil spill prevention and response research in the Gulf. The criminal penalties are from a charge of “negligence” against Transocean by the Justice Department. The more serious charge of “gross negligence,” defined as “wanton and reckless conduct,” was not levied.
The civil settlement is $1 billion in civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act. $800 million of that will be directed by the RESTORE Act of 2012 and will be used to fund environmental and economic projects for Gulf states. The civil resolution also reserves the claims for natural resource damages and clean-up costs.
Attorney General Eric Holder called the settlement “significant” and claimed that it is “justice for the human, environmental, and economic devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”
However, as with the $4.5 billion BP settlement, Transocean is being required to pay a paltry amount, over the course of five years, for its part in the 2010 explosion. It compares to the estimated worth of the Gulf region of more than $1 trillion, ignoring long-term environmental and economic effects. Transocean’s fund for claims from individuals and business for damages relating to the spill is only $2 billion.