First Arrest Made In BP Oil Spill

More than two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig collapsed in the Gulf of Mexico — killing 11 people — a former engineer for BP has become the first person arrested in the investigation surrounding the disaster.

The engineer stands accused of deleting hundreds of text messages with details on how much oil was flowing from the ruptured well into the Gulf of Mexico. He had been part of the team BP created to stop the leak and provide estimates on the volume of oil being released.

He had been under orders to not delete any information pertaining to his efforts, but authorities claim he deleted a total of 300 messages.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The deleted messages, some of which were recovered forensically, included sensitive information about the failure of one of the efforts to stop the flow of oil, known as the “top kill.” This includes a May 26, 2010, message from the first day of the top-kill efforts that said, “Too much flowrate–over 15,000,” indicating the flow from the well was three times higher than the company had said was the official rate of flow.

In 2011, Consumerist readers selected BP as the winner of our annual Worst Company In America tournament.

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  1. NightSteel says:

    So, the engineer gets cuffed because he deleted text messages, some indicating that the actual flow out of the Macondo well was 3x what the company was telling the public, but BP gets nothing for lying about it. Hooray for the justice system.

    • Poisson Process says:

      This is ok. They’ll put pressure on this guy to give up the goods on the higher-ups. They always bust someone down low first so they can make a deal and gain more information.

      • failurate says:

        I am not so sure that is what they always do. I get the feeling this is going to play out along the lines of: They bust someone down low so the higher ups can continue sunning themselves on privately owned Canary Island beaches and not have to be bothered by such things as laws and courts.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          This. They don’t *arrest* people when they want to grab the execs, they keep them in place as informants.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I agree, this is some Grade A Bullshit. I hope Mr. Mix doesn’t have to sign a non-disclosure as part of the “deal” he will probably get, because I would definitely buy that man’s book.

    • DrunkenMessiah says:

      Seriously. You just know that he wasn’t doing this of his own accord. Someone higher up surely pressured him ‘off the record’ to deal with the problem in this way. Guys like this engineer are not the cause of the problem; they are a symptom of a far deeper sickness in the company’s management.

    • Jawaka says:

      I would assume that in order for the government to go after BP they would have to be able to prove that BP knew that the oil flow into the waters was 3x what they admitted to. However if these deleted emails were the only proof of that fact that then it sounds like the government really wouldn’t have a case.

  2. MutantMonkey says:

    “He had been under orders to not delete any information pertaining to his efforts…”

    I wonder if there was any winking and nudging while he was being told that.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      The orders might have been like this: “Be sure there is NOTHING that management will need to delete in those messages”

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      I doubt it, as most people have seen enough CSI to know that almost everything can be recovered, except that term paper I did…

  3. mikedt says:

    Correction, first scapegoat found. Nobody who actually made any decisions that created this outcome will serve a day in jail.

    • fuzzby says:

      Sounds about right for our legal system; The side with the most expensive lawyers wins.

      • Gorbachev says:

        Naah.

        The real winners are those who are connected to lawmakers. They never get charged to begin with.

  4. CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

    Sucks to be that guy.
    If he did not delete anything then he never would have been in trouble.

    All he really had to do was take his phone fishing and dropped it in the lake “by accident” or just went to the police and filed a police report saying that he was mugged. He also could have gotten drunk and left it at a bar.
    For an engineer he was not that smart.

    They asked him only to not delete anything, not to use his phone. It is perfectly reasonable to lose or have your phone stolen when you use it normally so that cannot be held against you.

  5. Mark702 says:

    This is what you call a FALL GUY. The corrupt greedy BP execs stay in their rich bubble of fancy cars, million dollar homes and living in the lap of luxury, while some other guy takes the blame for everything.

  6. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    A former low-level employee cleaned up some space on his personal iPhone years after the incident and gets arrested. Meanwhile, the BP executives directly responsible for circumventing each possible safety measure bask in the “culture of ethical failure, substance abuse and promiscuity” courtesy of the Minerals Management Service.

  7. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Uh what about the negligence that killed 11 guys and poisoned the Gulf? They arrested some guy for deleting text messages? Wha…?

    I’m seriously about to give up on this country.

  8. Wathnix says:

    I bet if I went to mainstreet of where I live and spilled one barrel of oil on the road they would not take two years to arrest me.

  9. areaman says:

    “Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, is charged with two counts of obstructing justice for deleting from his iPhone hundreds of messages he had exchanged with a co-worker and a contractor, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.”

    Not sure why this guy would do this unless he’s really high up on the ladder and he was calling the shots. I’m going to file this one under, not the crime but the cover up.

  10. crazydavythe1st says:

    I think there’s a misunderstanding of what a preservation notice is.

    You don’t delete a *damn* thing even remotely related to the subject of the investigation. I’ve had to deal with several of them. It’s not some haphazard “don’t delete this” kind of thing. It’s a legal document that you’re required to sign that goes into explicit detail over what information you’re required to save and methods whereby you retain that information.

    For those suggesting “dropping your phone” as an alternative to him deleting the messages clearly don’t understand what these notices entail. They’ll usually require texts and voicemails be copied off of your cell phone immediately and you’ll typically have to volunteer that stuff to those investigating if it’s not a company resource they have access to already.

    This guy’s actions are akin to destroying evidence. So yeah, they’re going to arrest him.

    • Promethean Sky says:

      Akin to? No, this is actually destroying evidence, and screwing it up. Fine engineer he is.

  11. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    Dern, people were complaining about Zimmerman being arrested in a timely manner….