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Reports: Ex-BP engineer convicted on obstruction charge

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:51:16 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 12:16:52 PM CST
BP oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, oil rig, smoke, ships

REUTERS/Lee Celano

A former BP engineer has been convicted of one charge of obstructing the 2010 oil spill probe and acquitted of a second charge, according to The Associated Press and WDSU in New Orleans.

Sentencing for Kurt Mix is set for March 26, the AP reported. The count of obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the AP.

Mix had been charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. The Justice Department said he deleted text messages he had been ordered to save, including one that concluded the undersea gusher that erupted on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico was far worse than reported at the time.

BP had assigned Mix to help estimate the size of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, ultimately calculated at nearly 5 million barrels of crude. Prosecutors said one of the messages investigators recovered from his phone included "real-time flow-rate analysis" during an effort to plug the damaged well -- data that contradicted the company's public statements about the ongoing disaster.

The oil spill spewed nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the sea. The disaster began with an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drill rig that killed 11 workers.

The spill damaged the region's fishing and tourism industries. Scientists are still studying the long-term effects of the disaster on the Gulf ecosystem.

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