Judge accepts Transocean guilty plea

The Switzerland-based owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was charged with negligently discharging oil into the gulf.

“I believe the plea agreement is reasonable and is accepted,” said Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of United States District Court. No witnesses came to court to object to the agreement, and Judge Milazzo said she received no letters of opposition.

Transocean’s criminal fine is the second highest assessed for an environmental disaster, but it pales in comparison with the $1.26 billion in criminal fines that BP was assessed for the same accident, which spewed millions of barrels of crude oil into the gulf, fouling hundreds of miles of beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The judge’s action effectively closes the book on prosecutions of Transocean, but the company must still settle with a plaintiffs’ steering committee representing more than 100,000 people and businesses claiming damages.

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