A federal judge gave final approval Tuesday to
BP Plc's guilty plea in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,
settling criminal charges against the British oil company.
BP will pay 4 billion dollars in fines and penalties over the disaster, in which the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast, leaving oil spilling for months before the damaged wellhead on the sea floor could be capped.
The accident killed 11 rig workers, fouled beaches along the US Gulf Coast and disrupted industries in the region including tourism and fishing.
Judge Sarah Vance ruled in a US district court in New Orleans, Louisiana, that BP subsidiary BP Exploration & Production Inc could accept guilt for 11 felony counts of seaman's manslaughter.
The settlement included responsibility for additional counts of violations of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.
Vance said that the plea agreement was "reasonably calculated" to punish BP for the worker safety violations and resulting environmental disaster, the Bloomberg news agency reported. BP accepted monitoring of its drilling work.
In March 2012, BP settled private lawsuits for 7.8 billion dollars in liability toward individual plaintiffs.
Further lawsuits by US Gulf states and the federal government could still go to trial.
Three BP supervisors still face criminal charges arising from the investigation of the oil spill and the deaths of the rig workers.
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