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Originally published Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:43 PM

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Editorial: BP oil spill conviction — one down, more to go

Former BP engineer Kurt Mix was found guilty of obstructing justice for destroying evidence that would have shown the spill was far worse than BP executives were saying. Other BP employees should have their day in court.


Seattle Times Editorial

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THE proper response to the first conviction of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill should be one down, more to go.

Former BP engineer Kurt Mix was found guilty of obstructing justice for destroying evidence that would have shown the spill was far worse than executives initially said. Mix deleted hundreds of texts from his cellphone. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is expected to appeal.

The Justice Department must continue a relentless pursuit to hold individuals accountable for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

A press for accountability for the disaster and its consequences is what Gulf Coast residents and their battered environment deserve.

The explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig claimed 11 lives and caused a discharge of an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. An investigation found that BP workers failed to properly seal an exploratory well, causing it to explode and sink a drill rig. The catastrophe unleashed a months-long gusher of oil that coated beaches along the Gulf.

The company then withheld documents and misled the U.S. House about how quickly the oil was flowing.

Three years ago, BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges brought by the Justice Department and to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other restitution.

Other BP employees will have their day in court. That’s a good thing.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Lynne K. Varner, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).




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