A former BP drilling engineer was arrested Tuesday on charges of intentionally destroying evidence sought by federal authorities in the wake of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the Justice Department said.
The two charges of obstruction of justice filed against Kurt Mix, in the Eastern District of Louisiana, are the first criminal charges connected to the oil spill that resulted from a blowout on BP’s Macondo well. If found guilty, Mix could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.
It remains unclear whether other criminal charges are to follow ”” one of the main uncertainties hanging over the London-based oil giant as it tries to pay settlements and move past the disaster, which was the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
In the case against Mix, the former engineer allegedly ignored instructions from more senior BP officials and lawyers. The company said in a statement that it is cooperating with the Justice Department and that it ”œhad clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence.”