Kurt Mix, the former BP engineer arrested for deleting messages revealing how much oil was really seeping from the stricken Deepwater Horizon well in 2010, said evidence not yet submitted to federal investigators will absolve him of all criminal charges.
Mix, 50, faces two counts of obstruction for deleting more than 300 text messages between him and a supervisor which could reveal how much oil was flowing out into the Gulf of Mexico during the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
He could face as much as 20 years in prison and upwards of $250,000 in fines for each count, but in court Tuesday, Mix asked U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo in New Orleans to review evidence from a third party, which could exonerate him, the Associated Press reported.
BP has yet to have its day in court, and could face billions in Clean Water Act fines if deemed grossly negligent for its role in the leak. By law, the company could pay as much as $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled, making any information relating to the flow of oil into the Gulf valuable in assessing the company's liability.
Mix's lawyers claim Mix has thousands of emails and text messages and other information stored and preserved that proves he had no intention of hiding any information related to Deepwater Horizon accident, reported the AP.
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His attorneys claim Mix had innocuous reasons as to why 300 text messages were deleted from his phone, despite court orders urging him to preserve the conversations.
Mix pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against him, the AP said.
On April, 20, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and caused the platform to sink, causing a well head to break. The break prompted the leak of 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
BP on April 18, finalized a $7.8 billion settlement with thousands of property and business owners for damages sustained during the 2010 leak. The settlement will be paid from a $20 billion fund the company had set aside to cover cleanup costs.
As of May 14, BP has paid roughly $6.5 billion in claims from the $20 billion fund.