Bloomberg Businessweek reports that a former BP engineer, Kurt Mix, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for intentionally destroying evidence requested by US authorities about the size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
According to a New York Times News Service story, Mr. Mix allegedly deleted a string of more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor and then allegedly deleted additional text messages when he learned that the contents of his iPhone were about to be copied by a vendor working for BP lawyers. He deleted those messages after allegedly having received notices from BP instructing him to retain all information concerning the well.
What were the deleted messages about and why has their alleged deletion resulted in criminal charges?
Well, it turns out that Mr. Mix was involved in efforts to monitor and stop the oil leaking from the well after the explosion and the text messages in question pertained to the amount of oil that was leaking from the well. According to the criminal complaint, some of the messages allegedly indicate that an effort to stop the leak in the early days of the spill was failing in part because the company’s internal estimate of the amout of oil flowing from the well was greater than 15,000 barrels per day.