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Oil Spill Fines: Michael Bromwich, Offshore Safety Chief, Pushes Congress For Stiffer Penalties

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MIDDLE GROUND, LA - APRIL 19: An oil boom stretches across an oiled marsh on April 19, 2011 at Middle Ground in southern Louisiana. A year after the BP oil spill coated Gulf coast beaches and marshes, BP claims that most of the oil has been removed. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries says, however, that much of the coastal cleaning has been superficial, as the oil has seeped into the soil, killing marshes and further eroding the state's damaged Mississippi Delta ecosystem. (Photo by John Moore/Get | Getty File

WASHINGTON -- The head of the offshore drilling safety agency is telling Congress current fines for offshore violations need to be much stiffer.

Michael Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, says the maximum civil penalty for a violation offshore should be "well into the six figures" per day, per incident. The maximum fine was $35,000 per day at the time of the Gulf blowout. Bromwich called that amount "trivial" for profitable companies spending up to $1 million a day leasing an offshore rig.

Bromwich's statement comes a day after BP was cited for seven violations, and its contractors Transocean and Halliburton, four apiece, stemming from the Gulf spill.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward Markey says based on his calculations, the most BP could be fined is $21 million.

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