Kurt Mix, a 50-year-old Texan who resigned from BP last January, is the first to be arrested in the federal criminal investigation focused on The Deep Horizon oil bust. The engineer allegedly deleted over 300 text messages from his iPhone that estimated the rate at which oil was spewing from the busted well. The spill, that lasted continuously over 90 days, loaded 15,000 barrels of oil a day into the major waterway, killed 11 workers, halted local business, destroyed wildlife, and cost billions to repair.
Mix, who faces 20 years for obstruction of justice charges, is thought to be the first of many BP employees held accountable for negligence in the spill. According to The Times-Picayune, the criminal charges might help the Justice Department build a foundation for the multibillion-dollar claims it's making against BP in a related civil case. Unfortunately for the British-based company, these fines will be based on the amount of oil spilled, and scientific estimates of the flow rate show 4.9 million barrels dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.