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Jul 27, 4:03 PM EDT

Judge: BP payouts to local entities to start soon for spill


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge says BP will begin paying up to $1 billion in settlements to compensate local governments across the Gulf Coast for lost tax revenue and other economic damages they blame on the company's 2010 oil spill.

An order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said all of the payments to local governments must be made within 30 days.

BP's Macondo well blew out on April 20, 2010, leading to deadly explosions aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the nation's largest offshore oil spill. The federal government used a team of scientists to calculate that about 172 million gallons spilled into the Gulf. BP put the number much lower, closer to 100 million gallons.

July 15 was the deadline for roughly 500 local governments in five states to decide whether to accept BP's settlement offers as part of a broader $18.7 billion agreement with the five Gulf states and the federal government over damage from the spill.

Barbier's order says BP says most local government entities have accepted the settlement.

A handful of local governments have not accepted to settle and are continuing to fight for more funds. Among those not taking the settlement are Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana and Orange Beach in Alabama. Both locations were heavily oiled by the spill.

Plaquemines, for instance, says that the compensation offered for heavy oiling of its marshland isn't sufficient. The parish says that about 10,000 acres of parish land was heavily oiled and that in all about 40,000 acres of coastal area was damaged by the spill.

Government entities are expected to receive varying amounts in compensation according to how much damage they suffered.

Jefferson Parish is expected to receive about $53 million for damage it suffered, the highest expected payout so far. Coastal areas in the parish, in particular Barataria Bay, suffered a lot of damage.

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