BP engineer Kurt Mix, 50, was arrested last Tuesday for intentionally deleting electronic evidence requested by US authorities investigating the late April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
According to KleanIndustries.com, White House energy advisor Carol Browner deemed the oil spill to be the “worst
environmental disaster the US has ever faced”. The U.S. Geological survey estimates that 18 to 30 million gallons of unrefined oil have leaked into the gulf since the explosion, and according to The Washington Post, 62,000 barrels still leak into the Gulf of Mexico per day.
The Gulf of Mexico spill’s aftermath dominated media at the time. Now, two years later, the process to bring those parties responsible to justice remains ongoing. According to attorney General Holder, the US Department of Justice has filed charges against Mix for deleting records. The official press release form the United States Department of Justice showed that Mix deliberately deleted SMS messages containing information regarding the quantity of oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig after the 2010 explosion.
Mix was assigned to a team assembled to alleviate the environmental damage of the catastrophe. Their attempts included the failed “Top Kill”, which involved pumping cement to seal the leakage.
The BP legal team had sent numerous notices to Mix by October 2012 requesting any, and all information regarding the oil rig. Allegedly, Mix then deleted over 200 text messages he had exchanged with his superiors. Some were later collected with computer forensic technology.
One deleted SMS message Mix relayed to BP that the flow-rate of barrels of oil per day (BOPD) was “too much – over 15,000 BOPD” at least. BP had already estimated that Top Kill was not going to successfully stop the oil leakage if the flowrate was over 15,000 BOPD. While this was all happening, BP had estimated that the flowrate was going to be only 5,000 BOPD, much lower than the estimate that Mix sent over to his supervisors.
After learning that the electronic data on his iPhone was going to be requisitioned by BP associates, Mix deleted more text messages about the oil spill, and retained the services of a defence lawyer.
As the investigation proceeds, so does the spill’s damage to the environment. Mutated marine life has been emerging in the Gulf of Mexico, including eyeless shrimp, fish with open oozing sores, and clawless crabs. This could be due to the toxic solvents BP used to dissolve the oil.
The oil seeping into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico is just another example of a billion dollar corporation contaminating our environment. We are reminded of the utter disrespect and irresponsibility towards the environment of major companies like the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and The Occidental Petroleum Corporation.
The Deepwater Horizon spill did not only have environmental consequences. The initial explosion caused 11 crew members on board the oil rig to lose their loves.
Although more criminal charges are to come, Mix faces a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and fines of up to $250,000 US for each count of obstruction of justice convicted.
(1) Usa Today
(3) Washington Post
(4) New World Report