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New Orleans judge must approve BP to pay $20 billion


Just a few years after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina another disaster hit Louisiana shores. A massive BP oil rig erupted, killing 11 workers and spilling 134 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since water torts are considered punishable under maritime law, there are many rules and regulations, including a personal injury lawsuit for the 11 workers who lost their lives that day. That settlement has already been reached with a total thus far of $5.84 billion in payouts for people and businesses harmed by the oil spill.

Recently, a New Orleans federal judge must approve a settlement outlined by The Justice Department, and five states ordering BP pay $20 billion in restitution for their part in creating dangerous waterways. The damages will be broken up a number of ways including being ordered to pay $8.1 billion in natural resource damages, with funds going toward Gulf restoration projects, such as support for coastal wetland and fish and birds. An additional $600 million would cover other costs, such as federal and state reimbursement claims. And, up to $1 billion would go to local governments to settle claims for economic damage from the spill. Many of these claims reside in Louisiana, due to damaged sustained to property, personal or business.

The traveling of oil from the spill was deposited onto at least 400 square miles of the sea floor and washed up onto more than 1,300 miles of shoreline from Texas to Florida. Obviously, Louisiana falls in that stretch of shoreline.

The oil was toxic to animals as small as plankton and as large as whales, causing death and disease, and making it difficult for animals to reproduce. It is also troublesome for how this pollution will affect human health and business, since many people relied on the Gulf of Mexico to provide.

The resolution need only be approved by the residing New Orleans judge presiding over the case. BP has made a valiant effort to combat the effects of the spill to date, but will have a long road of ocean rehabilitation in front of them.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, said it best when she stated that besides the toll on human life, "the spill drove Gulf communities into a period of painful uncertainty, forcing questions that no American family should ever have to ask: Is my food safe to eat? Is it dangerous for my kids to play near the shore? Is the air still clean to breathe? And will my businesses ever recover?"

Source: PBS.org, "U.S., five states announce settlement with BP over oil spill," Eric Tucker, Oct. 5, 2015

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