A former BP senior engineer deliberately destroyed evidence the U.S. sought for an investigation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Macondo well explosion, according to a federal prosecutor's statement Monday in New Orleans at the end of a trial involving bribes to escape accountability.
The naive had hoped the trial would address the ongoing fossil fuel-related oil catastrophe in the Gulf and subsequent human rights abuses along the Gulf shores.
Kurt Mix, a former senior BP engineer, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice last year, alleging he deleted from his mobile phone text messages and voice mails about BP’s estimates of the size of the "spill," Bloomberg reports.
Mix was a senior engineer, reportedly leading efforts to "cap the Macondo well" as carcinogenic crude oil gushed into the Gulf.
“Kurt Mix knew exactly what was on that text message string when he deleted it on Oct. 4 and 5 and intended to obstruct this grand jury investigation,” Leo Tsao, a federal prosecutor, told the jury Monday. “The defendant acted with corrupt intent when he deleted text messages.”
On July 25, Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) had announced reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), concluding the department’s criminal investigation of the company related to the crime that began on April 20, 2010 at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.
The catastrophic event immediately killed eleven workers, then, according to toxicologists, marine scientists and one deceased whistleblower, killed and continues to kill as many as four to forty million others impacted by the crude and Corexit dispersant used in unprecedented amounts, and continues to kill marine life throughout the area.
Law, order, accountability as slippery as BP's crude oil in and along Gulf
In relation to covering up the oil and the crime, specifically the amount of gushing oil reported, a Halliburton subsidiary agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation associated deleting records created after the BP-wrecked Macondo well incident off Louisiana’s coast, to pay the statutory maximum fine of $200,000, and to accept a term of three years probation.
Furthermore, Halliburton gave $65 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Service (NFWS), reportedly “a voluntary measure.” The NFWS, however, is connected through special agents to the Deepwater Horizon Criminal Task Force (DHCTF) that's been investigating criminal wrongdoing since the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe began.
“In essence, Halliburton bribed the DHCTF to ensure that the DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies would not further criminal charges against them,” reported Susanne Posel for NSNBC on Monday.
The Department of Justice agreed to drop further criminal prosecution of Halliburton and its subsidiaries for any conduct relating to or arising out of the Macondo well incident, despite its involvement in triggering the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and a health crisis for four to forty million people directly impacted adversely from the crime against humanity.
Experts, such as toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer, who reported that Corexit turned the Gulf into a gelatinous toxic soup, and chemist Marco Kaltofen, who found toxic pollution spread deep under the Gulf’s surface, have shown over the past three years that the dispersant made the catastrophe worse for every human along the Gulf and the marine life in it.
Back to a major player in the crime, Halliburton, the Department of Justice acknowledged its significant and valuable cooperation during the investigation, and the company agreed to continue cooperating with the DOJ in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident. This plea agreement is subject to court approval.
To resolve the federal criminal probe of BP’s role in the human and environmental catastrophe, the company agreed to pay $4 billion. It pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts: 11 for felony manslaughter, one misdemeanor under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count of obstruction of Congress for misrepresenting the size of the spill.
Mix was the first defendant in the catastrophe’s criminal case to face a jury. He was accused of deleting multiple messages. One of those he said pertained to the catastrophe (continually called a “spill “) being larger than the company admitted.
“Mix denies intentionally destroying evidence and has pleaded not guilty,” Bloomberg reported Monday.
“The government’s theory is pure nonsense,” Michael McGovern, Mix’s attorney, told the jury Monday. “He doesn’t have a corrupt bone in his body.”
Involved in leading BP’s supposed efforts to “cap the well,” including the Top Kill procedure, the U.S. said in court papers, Mix had access to internal company data on the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf.
He also would have had access to data about the actual well that was gushing oil, which was not the one viewers watched on television, according to the late Matthew Simmons and verified by a land surveyor.
The well that was and still is gushing carcinogenic oil has not been addressed in the trial. He also knew that there was so much oil gushing, Top Kill would never work, as Matt Simmons had said before his early demise.
Mix knew BP’s internal estimates of the flow rate were “well above” numbers the company was citing publicly and higher than the maximum 15,000 barrel-a-day limit for Top Kill to succeed, the U.S. said, as Bloomberg reported.
“Mix didn’t disclose this at a meeting of government officials and BP engineers in May 2010 and subsequently erased references to it on his iPhone, prosecutors said.
Joan McPhee, another lawyer for Mix, said in her opening statement Dec. 3 that he “repeatedly shared with the government, all through the Macondo response effort, the very same information that these prosecutors claim he was trying to hide.”
The case is U.S. v. Mix, 12-cr-00171, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).
Meanwhile, marine biologists and other experts closely studying the Corexit’s impact continually find it more devastating in the Gulf than the last.
“Now, a new study looking at how the dispersant affects sea sponges is showing that the so-called solution to an oil spill is worse than the spill itself,” attorney Stuart Smith reported Monday. “While dispersants can protect beaches by breaking up slicks and sending the remains to the ocean depths, the toxic mix of chemicals and oil can cause tissue damage and genetic changes to basic organisms, the study completed this fall indicates.
“We have evidence that dispersants affect certain genes by itself, and that it can be compounded when the dispersant is added to oil,” Jose Victor Lopez, a marine biologist at Nova Southeastern University said last week. “The oil itself is less so. We’re very confident that we can say that oil and dispersants — and the dispersants might be even worse — had adverse effects on the sponge tissue. So it’s probably not a good idea to expose them, if you have a choice.”
“That would be a understatement, in my opinion,” Smith responded.
Since the ever worsening BP catastrophe began in 2010, the type of risky, deep sea drilling at the heart of the Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon catastrophe has risen.
“That suggests the question of another BP-sized spill isn’t a matter of whether, but a matter of when,” Smith stated Monday.
The trial suggests that when the next crime against humanity occurs at the hands of Big Energy, corporations will again buy their freedom to continue killing - humans, animals and Mother Earth.
Sources: Bloomber, MSNBC, Stuart Smith Blog, Vampire of Macondo