More than two years ago, an explosion aboard BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico cost 11 individuals their lives and led to gallons upon gallons of oil to be distributed through the gulf over the course of nearly three months. It’s been a long time coming, but the Justice Department has now instituted record penalties against BP for their role in the disaster.
The settlement, which BP agreed to, tasks the company with paying $4.5 billion, much of which will be used by authorities to aid environmental improvement efforts in those areas that were most plagued by damage in the wake of the disaster. The company also pleads guilty for criminal misconduct. Not helping BP’s case was their response to Congress, with which they reportedly tried to downplay the effects of the crisis.
Civil penalties in the case still have to be assessed, and lawmakers would like to see the Justice Department act similarly harsh toward BP in that regard as well. An agreement reached by Congress will find 80% of the civil fine eventually administered being given to the southern states along the coast. That way, the states can improve their local economies and correct the environmental damage.
Companies need to do whatever they can to ensure safety. As seen by this case, a failure to do so can lead to severe penalties.