In the first criminal case directly related to the 2010 Gulf oil disaster, FBI agents have arrested a former engineer for BP, who's accused of destroying evidence requested by federal authorities investigating the spill.
Kurt Mix, age 50, of Katy, Texas, is charged with obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he deleted text messages from his cell phone that he'd been instructed to keep to aid in the investigation.
Mix was a "drilling and completions project engineer for BP" and one of his tasks was to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well after the blowout.
"BP sent numerous notices to Mix requiring him to retain all information concerning Macondo, including his text messages," prosecutors say.
But they say in October of 2010, after hearing that the files of his text messages were going to be collected, he deleted more than 200 messages from his phone.
"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," the Justice Department says.
According to court documents, in one message, he wrote, "Too much flow rate -- over 15,000."
He and other engineers had concluded internally that the effort to cap the well was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day.
"At the time, BP's public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 BOPD -- three times lower than the minimum flow rate indicated in Mix's text," the government says.