11:34 GMT +318 October 2019
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    The 2010 disaster at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused devastating pollution in the Gulf of Mexico

    'Historic Settlement': BP Will Pay $20Bln for Gulf Oil Spill

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    Five years after the calamitous Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that led to a massive crude oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico, a US federal judge ruled that the rig’s operator, British Petroleum, must pay out $20 billion in damages to five states and local governments.

    On Monday, federal judge Carl Barbier granted final approval to a July 2015 settlement agreement regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Previously the court ruled that BP had been "grossly negligent" in the blast that caused the 5 million-barrel spill, the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petrochemical industry.

    Some $5.5 billion will be allocated to cover Clean Water Act penalties, and the rest will be dispersed among five Gulf states and 400 local governments which suffered from the ecological disaster. The compensation is set to be paid out in full within 16 years.

    So far, BP has reportedly spent some $28 billion on cleanup operations and compensations, the Verge reported. Total payouts may eventually exceed $53 billion, the Daily Mail noted.

    To cope with the expenses, BP will ultimately cut at least 7,000 jobs worldwide that are related to refining, marketing and distribution, according to the Daily Mail.

    It’s still not clear whether the environmental damage can be repaired. The spill stretched across 43,000 square miles, profoundly damaging the native coastal flora and fauna from Florida to Texas, as well as thousands of species in deeper waters.

    Sea creatures died in droves in the aftermath of the disaster, according to the National Wildlife Federation. The death rate of bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana quadrupled. The spill killed tens of thousands of critically endangered Kemp's Ridley turtles, accelerating the species’ decline.

    The unprecedented chemical poisoning decimated fishing and tourism in the Gulf states. Despite BP offering money to some fishermen to cover their losses, thousands of pending claims remain.

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday that the money from the court ruling will help to repair the regional economy and assist in mitigating, to some extent, the ecological consequences of the spill.

    "BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region," Lynch said.


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