The U.S. filed the first criminal charges in connection with the 2010 BP oil spill on Tuesday against a former BP engineer, the Justice Department announced.
The engineer, Kurt Mix, 50, of Katy, Texas, has been charged with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting about 300 text messages after the spill, according to DOJ. Some of the texts were related to a process known as “Top Kill,” in which engineers tried to pump heavy mud into the blown-out wellhead to try to stop the oil flow.
According to the Justice Department, the deleted texts included “sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing.”
If convicted, Mix faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.