A fresh oil sheen spotted recently in the Gulf of Mexico matches crude spilled during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Engineers with Deepwater Horizon rig operator BP reported the sheen on September 16, after spotting it on satellite photos. The Coast Guard said that tests conducted by the Marine Safety Laboratory confirmed that the oil "correlates" to the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The Coast Guard issued a "Notice of Federal Interest" on Wednesday night, warning BP and Transocean that they may be held liable for ongoing testing and assessment efforts. Officials added that the sheen does not pose a threat to sensitive coastal areas.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that BP is nearing a settlement with the Justice Department that could merge its civil and criminal liabilities and knock them out with a single, multi-billion-dollar payment. It was not clear what the range of the final settlement total might be. The company has also agreed to pay $7.8 billion to victims of the spill who say their livelihoods were affected.

The 2010 oil spill began after an explosion on the rig killed 11 men. It went on to become the largest accidental oil spill in human history.


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