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US considering offering $16b plea deal to BP

The US government is considering offering a deal to BP ahead of a scheduled civil trial placing blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Clone of Transocean settlement deepwater oil spill jan 3 2013Enlarge
Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (U.S. Coast Guard/AFP/Getty Images)

The US government is reportedly considering offering a $16 billion deal to BP ahead of a scheduled civil trial to assign blame for the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal would cover potential fines BP is expected to pay for violating the Clean Water Act and payments related to an environmental evaluation known as the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.

BP has already admitted fault in the 2010 explosion and oil spill that killed 11 workers and dumped millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The company has agreed to pay more than $30 billion in fines and settlements related to the cleanup costs.

A settlement could avoid a lengthy and potentially risky trial where BP is facing the biggest environmental fines ever levied, reports the Guardian.

The trial is scheduled to start Monday in New Orleans.

"The Gulf oil-spill case, if it does not settle before Monday, will be unlike any other trial brought under the environmental laws,"  David Uhlmann, professor of environmental law at the University of Michigan told the Washington Post.

"The Justice Department has never tried an environmental case that involved the human tragedy, economic losses and ecological disaster that occurred during the Gulf oil spill."

If BP is found guilty of "gross negligence" rather than just regular negligence, it could face the maximum Clean Water Act fine of $17.5 billion, plus billions more in additional claims by individuals and businesses who did not accept payments already.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130224/us-considering-16b-plea-deal-bp