Former Engineer for BP Arrested for Obstruction of Justice Stemming from Involvement with Deepwater Horizon Disaster
A former BP engineer has been arrested on charges of intentionally destroying evidence requested by federal criminal investigators working on the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster, Attorney General Eric Holder announced.
Kurt Mix, a drilling and completions project engineer for BP, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
“The department has filed initial charges in its investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster against an individual for allegedly deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Attorney General Holder. “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 U.S. history.”
According to affidavits filed in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced several explosions while in the Macondo well, ultimately killing 11 men on board and causing a large oil spill in the Gulf, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
After the explosions in the Gulf, Mix was part of a team that was involved in various efforts to stop the oil leak. Mix received numerous notices from BP requiring him to save all Macondo-related information, including text messages.
After Mix learned that his electronic files were going to be collected by individuals working for BP’s lawyers, he allegedly deleted a string of more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor that contained information indicating that BP’s recovery efforts were failing. Mix also allegedly deleted a string of more than 100 text messages with a BP contractor concerning the amount of oil flow from the well after the explosions.
If convicted, Mix faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
The Deepwater Horizon investigation is being led by investigating agents from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors from the Criminal Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of DOJ.