A BP engineer intentionally deleted more than 300 text messages that indicated the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico was much greater than what the company later reported and that BP’s efforts to control the spill were failing. These are the claims by the U.S. Justice Department in the first criminal charges arising out of the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Kurt Mix, the engineer, was arrested last month and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence sought by federal authorities.
The charges came on April 24th, the day before Judge Barbier started the hearing on whether to give preliminary approval to the multi-billion civil settlement between BP and the PSC. Criminal penalties that could be levied against BP and its corporate partners in the operation would be based in part on estimates of the amount of oil that spilled from the Macondo well. Mix, who was a BP project engineer, allegedly deleted more than 200 messages sent to a BP supervisor from his iPhone in October 2010 containing information about how much oil was spilling out. He then erased 100 more the following year after receiving numerous legal notices to preserve the information, the Justice Department said in a news release. I have great difficulty believing that BP didn’t know what its engineers were doing, including Mr. Mix. In fact, I will be greatly shocked if BP didn’t know exactly what this engineer did.
On the very first day in May of 2010 that BP began to use the “top kill” method to plug the leaking well by pumping heavy mud into the blown-out well head, Mix estimated in a text to his supervisor that 15,000 barrels of oil per day were spilling — an amount greater than what BP said the method could likely handle. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was capped. More will likely be written in the June issue on this matter since this news broke just as we were winding up the May issue.
Source: Associated Press
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