BP is hoping to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil and take a major steps on ending the region’s worst ever environmental disaster. An estimated 4.9 million barrels, more than 205 million gallons, spewed from the ruptured well in the 87 days from the beginning of the disaster until the leak was finally capped on July 15, BP and the US government said in a statement. The 4.1 million uncontained barrels now estimated to have flowed into the water make it the biggest unintentional oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. “How much, how many” could play a crucial role in determining how much BP is fined under the Clean Water Act, which allows the US government to seek civil penalties for illegal oil discharges.
Fines under the law range from 1,100 dollars per barrel spilled to as high as 4,300 dollars per barrel spilled, if negligence is proven, meaning BP could theoretically face fines of up to 17.6 billion dollars for the 4.1 million barrels that poured into the sea. While the last surface patches of toxic crude biodegrade rapidly in the warm waters, the long-term impact of the disaster may not be realized for decades. And now the focus shifts to the clean-up of marshes and beaches, so it does to the restoration of the industries devastated by the spill. Last week the company posted a quarterly loss of 16.9 billion dollars and set aside 32.2 billion dollars to pay spill costs, including a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay compensation to the battered fishing, oil, and tourism industries.