Former senior BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix has been arrested on the charge of obstruction of justice after he allegedly deleted 300 text messages, USAToday.com reports.
The text messages were among the documents requested by prosecutors investigating the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and subsequent massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. According to court documents, the text messages contained proof that BP’s public estimates of the volume of oil leaking were knowingly false.
According to a statement released by the Department of Justice, Mix deleted some 200 messages from his phone in October 2010, as efforts to contain the leak were underway. Engineers had deduced that the strategy to be used, called “top kill,” would fail if the flowrate was more than 15,000 barrels of oil per day. Some of the deleted texts were recovered, including one that reads “Too much flowrate – over 15,000.” BP’s public estimate of the flowrate was 5,000 barrels per day.
The New York Times reports that BP released a statement saying its policies regarding the preservation of evidence were clear, and that the company “will not comment on the government’s case against former BP employee Kurt Mix.”
United States Attorney General Eric Holder stressed that his investigation is by no means over, saying that “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.”