- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27—It took five years, but the town of White Springs is about to cash in on a settlement from the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that occurred April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

The White Springs Town Council held a closed session meeting at the conclusion of their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 14, with Town Attorney Fred Koberlein, Interim Town Manager Shirley Heath and council members Rhett Bullard, Walter McKenzie, Helen Miller and Tonja Brown in attendance, to discuss whether to accept a settlement amount of $40,233 from BP. The council, minutes later voted to accept the settlement.

The town had submitted a claim to the state in 2010 for loss of tourism revenue because of the oil spill. Heath said the town will net about $30,000 from the settlement.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a settlement agreement states that BP will pay a total of over $18 billion, which is to be divvied out between Clean Water Act penalties, natural resource damage claims and economic claims across the Gulf states. Florida alone will receive at least $3.25 billion.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi stated the oil spill caused significant impacts to Florida’s natural resources and economy.

“Of Florida’s 790 miles of coastline, 177 miles received some degree of oiling,” Bondi said in a settlement fact sheet.

Aside from the $18.5 billion, BP has already committed an additional $1 billion for early restoration projects, records state. About $4.9 billion will go toward resolving the Gulf Coast states’ economic claims, of which Florida will receive $2 billion. Other monies will go toward resolving natural resource damages with Florida getting $680 million out of the pot.

Florida will also receive at least $572 million to resolve Clean Water Act civil penalties.

“Payments to Florida will come in over the course of several years per an agreed schedule,” Bondi noted. “This is only an agreement in principle, with any final agreement contingent on the execution of settlement agreements with all necessary parties and court approval of the Consent Decree.”

Meanwhile, the town of White Springs has not yet decided how the funds will be used once they receive them.


(c)2015 the Suwannee Democrat (Live Oak, Fla.)

Visit the Suwannee Democrat (Live Oak, Fla.) at www.suwanneedemocrat.com

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