BP Ordered to Pay $25 Million For Alaska Oil Spills

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and British Petroleum (BP) reached a settlement where BP is required to pay $25 million in civil penalties for an oil spill in Alaska. The announcement was made on May 3, 2011 by the EPA on their civil enforcement section of their website. The fine is the largest penalty ever on a per-barrel basis for any recorded oil spill. The penalty is for an incicent in March, 2006 where BP spilled about 5054 barrels of crude oil. The oil spill occurred on the North Slope of Alaska. The first oil spill was followed by another incident in August 2006 where 25 barrels of crude oil were spilled. The Buildings.com website reports on the story: "Today's settlement with BP Alaska imposes a tough penalty and requires the company to take action to prevent future pipeline oil spills on the Alaska North Slope," says Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "The Clean Water Act gives the U.S. authority to assess higher penalties when oil spills are the result of gross negligence, and this case sends a message that we intend to use that authority and to insist that BP Alaska and other companies act responsibly to prevent pipeline oil spills." The settlement involved 3 government agencies: The EPA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The $25 million penalty was to be paid as follows: $20.05 million will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which was established under the Clean Water Act. this part of the penalty is slated to be used "to finance federal response activities and provide compensation for damages sustained from future discharges or threatened discharges of oil into water or adjoining shorelines" The $4.95 million remainder is to be paid to the U.S. Treasury. The EPA also commented on the settlement: The injunctive relief in this settlement requires BPXA to significantly improve inspection and maintenance of its pipeline infrastructure on the North Slope to reduce the threat of additional oil spills. In addition to minimizing the potential for future oil spills from BP's pipelines on the North Slope, the injunctive relief will also help minimize oil spills from its on-site storage tanks. There is a 30-day public comment period for the consent decree and final court approval. Published by maritime lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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