Transocean Deepwater Inc. pleaded guilty Thursday to a violation of the Clean Water Act for its illegal conduct leading to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and was sentenced to pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties, Attorney General Holder said in a statement.
In total, the amount of fines and other criminal penalties imposed on Transocean are the second-largest environmental crime recovery in U.S. history – following the $4 billion criminal sentence imposed on BP Exploration and Production Inc. in connection with the same disaster.
“Transocean’s guilty plea and sentencing are the latest steps in the department’s ongoing efforts to seek justice on behalf of the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said Holder.
Most of the $400 million will go toward protecting, restoring, and rebuilding the Gulf Coast region, he said.
BP and Transocean have now both been held criminally accountable for their roles in this disaster, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
During the guilty plea proceeding Thursday in federal court, Transocean admitted that members of its crew onboard the Deepwater Horizon, acting at the direction of BP’s well site leaders, were negligent in failing to investigate clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.
Under the court order, $150 million of the $400 million criminal recovery is dedicated to acquiring, restoring, preserving, and conserving – in consultation with state and other resource managers – the marine and coastal environments, ecosystems, and bird and wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and bordering states that were harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
This portion of the criminal recovery will also be directed to significant barrier island restoration and/or river diversion off the coast of Louisiana to benefit and improve coastal wetlands affected by the spill.
An additional $150 million will be used to fund improved oil spill prevention and response efforts in the Gulf through research, development, education and training.
Transocean was also sentenced, according to the plea agreement, to five years of probation – the maximum term of probation permitted by law.
A separate proposed civil agreement, which would resolve the United States’ civil Clean Water Act penalty claims, would impose a record $1 billion civil penalty and require measures to improve performance and prevent recurrence. The proposal is pending in federal court.