Engineer Arrested in BP Oil Spill Case

Posted April 24th, 2012 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Justice Department says a former engineer for the oil giant BP has been arrested on charges of intentionally destroying evidence related to the 2010 oil rig explosion and massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers.

Authorities said in a statement that 50-year-old Kurt Mix from Texas was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice.

Investigators allege that Mix deleted more than 300 telephone text messages about how much oil was flowing into the waters off the U.S. southern coast as BP struggled to cap the leak.

Mix is the first person charged in what the authorities say is a continuing investigation of those responsible for the worst offshore oil spill in the country's history. By the time the well was capped, nearly 5 million barrels of oil had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

If convicted, Mix could could face up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

BP said in a statement Tuesday that it is cooperating with the Justice Department and other official investigations into the 2010 oil spill. The statement said BP had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence.

The company, however, declined to comment on the government's case against Mix.