Ex-BP engineer arrested over Macondo oil spill cover up
30 April 2012
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said 50-year-old Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, was arrested on April 24 and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for deleting 200-plus text messages about flow rates following the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, has been arrested and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, the first criminal charge since the massive oil spill
This is the first criminal charge since the massive oil spill in 2010. The deleted texts included sensitive internal BP information that indicated the top kill efforts to plug the well were failing.
Mix had been assigned to estimate the size of the spill, and one of the messages investigators recovered includes real-time flow-rate analysis during an effort to plug the damaged well.
That data contradicted the company’s public statements about the ongoing disaster, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit outlining the charges against him.
“Before top kill commenced, Mix and other engineers had concluded that top kill was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day,” the DOJ said, a rate BP engineers had concluded would be too high for a top kill to be effective.
According to the affidavit, an early estimate of the blowout Mix produced ranged from 64,000 bpd to 138,000; another ranged from 1,000 to 146,000 per day.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ultimately concluded that about 59,200 barrels of oil a day flowed from the well before it was capped, making it the worst oil spill in US history.
“The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in US history.”
Mix could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000 for each count, the DOJ said.
BP announced the previous week that it had reached a settlement estimated at US$7.8 billion with thousands of businesses and individuals who filed damage claims in the wake of the spill, and a federal criminal investigation of the disaster is ongoing.
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