Federal officials have started their criminal prosecution of those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, starting with Kurt Mix.
Mix, 50, was one of the senior drilling engineers employed by BP. He is accused of destroying hundreds of messages that indicated knowledge of the oil spilling from the ruptured well 5,000 feet underwater. As a part of his duties, Mix was responsible for determining how much oil was leaking. In addition to this, he was partly responsible for implementing efforts to stop the oil flow. Thus, Mix is accused of falsifying information that was given to the government on the volume of oil that was discharged from the ruptured well.
One of the recovered text messages stated that Mix was well aware that the excessive flow of oil would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stop from above.
If he is convicted, Mix will face up to 20 years in prison for Obstruction of Justice charges. In addition to prison time, he could be forced to pay up to $500,000 in fines. Mix retired from BP in 2011.
BP has a reputation of trying to defuse situations regarding the amount of damage the company does to the environment. The Deepwater Horizon spill is one of the worst spills in history and is responsible for the destruction of delicate ocean habitats and the loss of a vast amount of marine life in the region. At the time of the oil spill, BP made claims that 5,000 barrels of oil were leaking out per day; the reality was that the company was aware that the spill was gushing at least 15,000 barrels of crude oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP has stated that the company will do all that it can to cooperate with the government during the trial of its former employee. Mix’s Obstruction of Justice charge is likely only the first as federal officials organize their case against the oil company.