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Transocean in Court Today

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that blew up in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, was in federal magistrate court Wednesday to answer to criminal charges.

The company has already agreed to pay $1.4 billion in fines, but lawyers say that they will plead not guilty to a criminal charge of violating the Clean Water Act.

Those same lawyers tell WGNO News that this is a procedural move, and on February 14, 2013, the same parties will change their plea to guilty.

Lawyers say Transocean will eventually admit in court that the company was negligent in failing to notice clear indications that the Macondo Well was not secure.

Of course, a much greater share of the blame for the blowout rests with BP, which will be in court three weeks from now to answer even more serious criminal charges and presumably pay an even bigger fine than the one imposed upon Tranocean.

Most of the money collected from fines – and it’s expected it could go as high as $20 billion – will be split amongst the five Gulf coast states most affected by the disaster. Louisiana officials say the money will go toward helping to restore the state’s vanishing coastline.