BATON ROUGE, La., April 24 (UPI) -- A former BP engineer was arrested for allegedly destroying evidence during an investigation into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kurt Mix, 50, was arrested Tuesday in Louisiana and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a release.
"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," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "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."
Court documents indicate Mix was a drilling and completions project engineer for BP. Following the explosion -- which killed 11 men -- and resulting oil spill, Mix worked on BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well and was involved in various efforts to stop the leak, including Top Kill, a failed BP effort to pump mud into the blown out wellhead to try to stop the oil flow.
After being notified by BP that he had to turn over all information concerning the explosion and oil spill, court documents allege Mix deleted a string of more than 200 text messages between him and a superior about the failure of Top Kill, as well as more than 100 text messages with a BP contractor with whom Mix discussed various issues concerning how much oil was flowing from the Macondo well.
If convicted, Mix faces as much as 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 on each count.