Another blow to BP's coffers—and reputation: The oil company has been fined $25 million for two Alaska pipeline spills in 2006. The civil fines will settle charges arising from both the spills and BP's non-compliance with court orders to properly maintain the pipelines, the New York Times reports. It's the largest per-barrel assessment ever imposed for a spill, and could be a sign that fines and penalties of more than $20 billion will be levied against the company when the investigation into its much larger Gulf of Mexico spill is completed.
“This penalty should serve as a wake-up call to all pipeline operators that they will be held accountable for the safety of their operations and their compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the pipeline safety laws,” says a Justice Department official. BP was found grossly negligent in the 2006 spills, one of which discharged more than 5,000 barrels of oil onto the Arctic tundra and into a lake due to corrosion and poor maintenance. The company was ordered to perform extensive repairs, but did not fully comply. Yesterday's settlement requires BP to submit to an outside monitor who will ensure it is keeping up with maintenance. (Read more BP stories.)