Judge approves criticized plea deal

March 12, 2009 1:18:35 PM PDT
A federal judge approves a highly criticized plea deal that fines BP PLC $50 million for its criminal role in a deadly 2005 blast at its refinery near Houston that killed 15 people. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The plea deal also sentences the oil giant to three years probation. The deadly explosion at BP's Texas City refinery, about 40 miles southeast of Houston, also injured more than 170 people.

Many blast victims objected to the plea deal, believing the fine was too low and that BP would not meet its safety obligations at the refinery.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal's decision during a court hearing Thursday came after a protracted process in which blast victims unsuccessfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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