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First Charges Filed In BP Oil Spill Investigation

Catherine Green |
April 24, 2012 | 11:20 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer


From a 2009 protest in Jackson Square, New Orleans. (Infrogmation/Wikimedia Commons)
From a 2009 protest in Jackson Square, New Orleans. (Infrogmation/Wikimedia Commons)
Former BP engineer Kurt Mix was arrested in the first criminal charges filed in connection with the BP oil spill two years ago. The Justice Department said Tuesday Mix has been charged with intentionally destroying evidence requested by authorities.

According to USA Today, a complaint unsealed in New Orleans revealed the 50-year-old is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice.

From USA Today:

Mix, a drilling engineer who worked on BP's effort to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the blown out Deepwater Horizon rig, allegedly deleted 300 text messages with a company supervisor detailing how BP's controversial program to stop the leak — Top Kill — was failing.

Included in the information Mix allegedly deleted, according to court documents, were estimates that oil was flowing at a rate of 15,000 barrels per day.

"At the time, BP's public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 (barrels per day),'' prosecutors said in court documents.

Before the Top Kill program started, Mix and other engineers had concluded that the effort was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels per day, according to court documents.

Mix could face up to 20 years in prison on top of fines of up to $250,000 for each count. BP officials have not commented on the charges. Just last month, the oil giant agreed to settle lawsuits brought by more than 100,000 fisherman complaining of lost work, cleanup workers who have gotten sick because of the spill and others affected by the 2010 mess. 

The Justice Department's Deepwater Horizon Task Force, based in New Orleans, will continue their investigation.


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