A former BP Plc engineer was arrested and charged on Tuesday with intentionally destroying evidence about the deadly 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Kurt Mix, 50, who lives in the Houston suburb of Katy, was arrested on a criminal complaint filed in New Orleans containing two charges of obstruction of justice.
“Mix deleted numerous electronic records relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, including records concerning the amount of oil potentially flowing from the well, after being repeatedly informed of his obligation to maintain such records,” FBI Special Agent Barbara O’Donnell said in a sworn statement filed in the case.
Mix was a drilling and completions engineer for BP. According to court documents, he worked on BP’s efforts to estimate the flow of oil from the well and on attempts to stop the leak. BP sent Mix “numerous messages” to preserve all information and communications regarding the well, including text messages, the documents said.
In outlining the charges, the government suggested Mix knew the rate of flow from the busted well was much greater than the company publicly acknowledged.
BP , based in Britain, had reported at the time that the well was leaking about 5,000 barrels a day of crude oil.
The messages allegedly give a different picture.
“Too much flowrate — over 15,000,” said one message Mix sent on May 26, the first day of the operation.
The charges came a day before a federal judge in New Orleans was to consider a motion granting preliminary approval of a $7.8-billion civil settlement between BP and a committee of plaintiffs in a civil case.