Federal judge urged to approve BP settlement

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012
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"You're comparing apples to oranges," the judge said.

The agreement also calls for paying medical claims by cleanup workers and others who say they suffered illnesses from exposure to the oil or chemicals used to disperse it. In addition, BP has agreed to spend $105 million over five years to set up a Gulf Coast health outreach program and pay for medical examinations.

The settlement doesn't resolve separate claims brought by the federal government and Gulf Coast states against BP and its partners on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Those claims involve environmental damage from the nation's worst offshore oil spill.

It also doesn't resolve claims against Switzerland-based rig owner Transocean Ltd. and Houston-based cement contractor Halliburton.

A trial next year is designed to identify causes of BP's well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved in the disaster.

The April 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

In the aftermath, BP created a $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf Coast residents and businesses. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility paid out more than $6 billion to about 221,000 claims before a court-supervised administrator, Patrick Juneau, took over the process earlier this year. BP agreed to continue paying claims as Barbier decides whether to approve the settlement.

Juneau said his team has received more than 79,000 claims and made offers to claimants worth a total of more than $1.3 billion as of Tuesday. Roughly 95 percent of people who received offers have accepted them, Juneau added.

BP agreed to pay up to $600 million in fees, costs and expenses to a team of plaintiffs' attorneys who brokered the settlement.