US files first criminal charges against BP engineer in oil spill investigation
The 50-year-old former drilling engineer for BP had the thankless job of estimating the amount of crude leaking from the Deepwater Horizon oil well, subsequent to the explosion that created the worst environmental disaster in US history, dwarfing the appalling results of the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska.
One could say Mix was between the devil and the deep blue sea in a virtually literal sense. Precisely he is accused of deleting over 300 text messages detailing the failure of BP’s Top Kill project, the company’s effort to cap the oil spill.
Essentially Mix needed to keep management apprised of the actual facts without leaking the true extent of the problem to the media, a responsibility akin to juggling wildcats
Prosecutors claimed the company reported the release of 5,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico daily, when the known reality was 15,000 barrels a day. Presumably the company was trying to avoid governmental intrusion as they ineffectively grappled with the monumental toxic spill being exacerbated daily.
Even before the Top Kill project was implemented, Mix and other BP engineers did not expect the effort to be successful, according to the article on the USA Today website by Kevin Johnson and Rick Jervis.
The engineer could face up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000 if convicted of either count. The indictments announced today frankly assert the company knew the extent of the flow and purposefully mislead the government, media, public and environmental activists.