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Judge OKs $4 billion BP oil spill criminal settlement

  • FILE - In this April 21, 2010 file aerial photo, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns in the Gulf of Mexico. The Justice Department has reached a $1.4 billion settlement with Transocean Ltd., the owner of the drilling rig that sank after an explosion killed 11 workers and spawned the massive 2010 oil spill in the gulf. On Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, two people with knowledge of the negotiations say Switzerland-based Transocean would pay the money to resolve the department's civil and criminal probe of the company's role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge on Tuesday approved an agreement for BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company's role in the 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said the plea deal was "just punishment" considering the alternatives to the settlement, including the risk that a trial could result in a lower fine for BP.

Before she ruled, Vance heard emotional testimony from relatives of 11 workers who died when BP's blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and started the spill.

"I've heard and I truly understand your feelings and the losses you suffered," she said.

Billy Anderson, whose 35-year-old son, Jason, of Midfield, Texas, died in the blast, recalled the trauma of watching the disaster play out on television.


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