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BP Engineer Arrested For Destroying Gulf Oil Spill Evidence

BP Engineer Arrested For Destroying Gulf Oil Spill Evidence

Just over two years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon resulted in the worst oil spill in world history, the federal government has filed its first criminal charges against a BP employee. Multiple news outlets report that aformer BP engineer has been arrested and charged with intentionally destroying evidence about the Gulf oil spill, even after being notified that he was legally obligated to preserve it.

According to a Department of Justice statement released Tuesday,Kurt Mix was charged with two counts of obstructing justice for allegedly deleting 200-plus text messages about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill sent between he and a BP supervisor in the summer of 2010. CNN reports that at least one message confirms that the undersea gusher was far worse than reported at the time.

Mix was a drilling and completions project engineer for BP. Following the blowout, he worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well and was involved in various efforts to stop the leak. Those efforts included, among others, Top Kill, the failed BP effort to pump heavy mud into the blown out wellhead to try to stop the oil flow. BP sent numerous notices to Mix requiring him to retain all information concerning Macondo, including his text messages.

According to the DOJ statement, on or about Oct. 4, 2010, after learning that his electronic files were to be collected by a vendor working for BPs lawyers, Mix allegedly deleted on his iPhone a text string containing more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor. The deleted texts, some of which were recovered forensically, included sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing.

In a statement issued Tuesday, BP said it was cooperating with Justice Department and other investigations into the spill, which lasted nearly three months. The company had no comment on the allegations against Mix but said it “had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence.”

The Justice Department says if Mix is convicted of the charges he faces a maximum penalty of 20 yeas in jail and a $250,000 fine for each of the two counts of obstruction of justice.

The news that someone has finally been arrested for the tragic Gulf oil spill comes as a great relief to those that have called for criminal charges for over two years. Although government investigations attribute the spill to BP’s “lack of a safety culture,” this is the first time that someone has faced jail time for the accident, which took the lives of 11 rig workers, contaminated coastlines in multiple states, and has been linked to the deaths or deformation of countless marine animals.

Mix’ is arrest is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. No doubt BP hopes sacrificing a few low level employees will allow it to avoid paying the full price for its crimes. We can only hope that this arrest will be the first of many, and that the DOJ will pursue its case until those truly in charge are brought to justice.

Related Reading:

Gulf Oil Spill: 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted To Know

BP Faces New Round Of Citations For Gulf Oil Spill

Gulf Submarine Expedition Shows Ocean Floor Covered In Oil

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Image via NASA/Flickr

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37 comments

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4:52PM PDT on May 26, 2012

I am not the one to wish bad things on anyone, but we all must be responsible for our actions this man who have been charged for BP 'S stupidity is not the only one to blame now we must look further up the Co. Chainge to find others. Don 't let big money get away with murder. They seem for ever letting the little man take all of the weight but not this time I hope.

10:32AM PDT on May 8, 2012

Just clean up the mess before you start another one.

12:03PM PDT on May 1, 2012

IMHO, they are going after the small fish in a sea of big fish....they need to start with this jellyfish and move on up the BP food chain. They all need their a$$e$ convicted and thrown in jail to rot away the rest of their miserable lives.

12:36AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Like BP actually gives a damn about you, your environment, the future of your kids... Long after we are all dead and forgotten BP will continue to rape this planet and plunder it's resources... Soon 'they' will find resources on the Moon, Mars or wherever 'they' can move too... This system of greed, take what you can for yourself has been in the making for years, true cr@pitalism under the guise of democracy at work... The 2% of the worlds population that controls 80% of it's wealth are real/true pshycopaths, monsters at work... We the little people do not even come into the equation.

11:06PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

At last they found scapegoat which is not enough the top people should be behind the bars and we should all stop buying BP products to teach them a lesson other wise nothing will happen

10:23PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

He will probably get ten days in a white coller jail,......and a million dollar bonus.

6:07PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

British Petroleum or BP is now Beyond Petroleum. They are now into destroying evidence in criminal investigations and obstructin justice as well as polluting the planet and paying off politicians.

4:06PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Best news I've heard all day! Sadly, it's only one person who probably got a huge pension plan for taking this direct hit. Many more BP executives need to be brought to justice.

3:38PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

I believe there are many BP executive who should be arrested.

3:29PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

If you believe that BP told him to hang on to those files I have a mountain in Florida full of Gold and Fairies to sell you CHEAP!!!!!! Can you say SCAPEGOAT???

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