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BP engineer charged with obstruction of justice in first criminal charge connected to Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, deleted text messages from his cell phone.

Bp oil drill resume 2011 10 21Enlarge
In this handout image provided be the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010 near New Orleans, Louisiana. An estimated 206 million gallons of crude oil have spilled into the gulf from accident. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew. (U.S. Coast Guard/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. The oil rig explosion led to the release of 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, NPR reported

Reporter Carrie Johnson told an NPR blog that a "law enforcement official says there are more charges to come."

More from GlobalPost: Deepwater Horizon oil spill: BP reaches $7.8-billion settlement

The Justice Department posted a press release on its website that detailed the charges against Mix. It say Mix "intentionally destroyed" hundreds of text messages after he was instructed to preserve them as evidence.

The press release went on: "The deleted texts, some of which were recovered forensically, included sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing." Operation Top Kill was a BP plan to inject concrete into the well, which was gushing crude oil from the sea floor. 

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BP had publicly estimated the oil spill rate was 5,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD), but internally engineers had determined the real rate was over 15,000 BOPD. They also concluded that Top Kill would not work if the rate were that high.

Another text message Mix deleted said, “Too much flowrate – over 15,000.” 

Mix could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count if convicted.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120424/bp-engineer-charged-obstruction-justice-first-cr