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Gulf oil spill: BP's record $4 billion criminal plea deal gets judge's OK

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The $4 billion payment is the largest criminal penalty in US history. It comes in addition to $24.2 billion BP has already provided for cleanup and other claims in the Gulf region, according to court documents.

Resolution of the criminal case does not end BP’s obligation to the Gulf coast. The company still faces additional liability of billions of dollars in other pending civil lawsuits, lawyers say.

The April 2010 oil spill continued for three months as the company attempted to find a way to stop the underwater gusher. Beaches from Texas to Florida were soiled and shut down. Particularly hard hit were the wetlands of Louisiana.

US District Judge Sarah Vance accepted the plea deal after hearing testimony from those who lost family members in the explosion and blow out.

Many opposed the deal.

“The plain and simple fact here is BP killed my son in their efforts to speed up operations, to save time, and money,” Billy Fred Anderson wrote to the judge on behalf of his son, Jason, who died on the offshore rig.

Chris Jones wrote on behalf of his brother, Gordon, whose wife was eight months pregnant with their second son at the time of the disaster. He wants an apology.

“Never once has BP … ever told any member of our family that they are sorry for our loss,” Chris Jones said in his letter. He said top BP executives and members of its board of directors should come personally to the Jones home in Baton Rouge to meet his brother’s widow and two sons.

“I would expect each of them to look each of them in the eye and tell them they are sorry,” he wrote.

Judge Vance told the relatives in court that she had read their “gut-wrenching” submissions and considered their statements before making her decision. She added that she agreed that BP should have issued a personal apology to the families, according to the Associated Press.

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