Two years after oil from a BP well began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges alleging that a former BP employee destroyed critical evidence in the early days of the unfolding disaster.
The charges are the first to be filed in what the Obama administration has called the worst environmental disaster in American history, and they are significant because they target an individual employee for his actions.
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According to an affidavit and complaint filed today in a Louisiana court, Kurt Mix, a former drilling and completions engineer, deleted email and text messages he had sent to senior BP managers estimating that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf was many times greater than the amount stated publicly. Mix was specifically instructed by attorneys contracted by BP to retain his records before he deleted them, the affidavit states.
In a statement released to reporters, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that more charges are likely, describing the indictment as "initial charges" in an ongoing investigation, and saying that the Department of Justice "will hold accountable those who violated the law."
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