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Judge accepts Transocean's oil spill agreement

FILE - In this file photo taken June 12, 2010, crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala. As cleanup costs escalate and lawsuits mount, the fear of the unknown is drowning out the voices of reason, causing BP's stock price to crumple in half.

FILE – In this file photo taken June 12, 2010, crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala. As cleanup costs escalate and lawsuits mount, the fear of the unknown is drowning out the voices of reason, causing BP’s stock price to crumple in half.

NEW ORLEANS  — A federal judge has approved Transocean Ltd.’s agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and pay $400 million in criminal penalties for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo accepted Transocean’s plea and imposed the agreed-upon sentence during a hearing today. The Swiss-based drilling company could have withdrawn from the deal if she had rejected it.

Transocean agreed last month to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act. The company also agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties. A different judge will decide whether to accept that part of the settlement.

Transocean owned the rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded and sank over BP’s Macondo well. The accident killed 11 men.

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