BP plc agreed to pay a record $20.8 billion to the US government to settle claims that stem from damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The spill is considered by many to be the worst oil in US history, lasting 87 days and responsible for the death of 11 workers. It had a devastating affect on the shorelines of five states, severely affecting local economies and ecosystems.
The settlement is the largest that the US government has reached with a single company.
BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said the deal gives “BP certainty with respect to its financial obligations.”
The US Department of Justice announced the news on Monday. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said: “BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region.”
She added: ”This historic resolution is a strong and fitting response to the worst environmental disaster in American history,”
Conservation organizations praised the settlement in a joint statement. They said that although the full damage of the spill may not yet be know, the process “will help bring the Gulf back to the state it was before the spill, and the release of this plan is a positive step toward that end.”
Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said: ”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?”
The money will be go towards environmental and economic damages caused by the spill.