Oh, Dear, It’s Democracy, Destroy Oil Spill Data
16 October, 2013
Anthony Badalamenti, former manager of US energy services giant Halliburton, has admitted destroying evidence linked to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
He faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in US District Court to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence. His sentencing is set for January 21, 2014.
The disaster - the biggest offshore oil spill in US history - was caused by an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 persons.
Reports from media including the Associated Press and Washington Post said:
Mr. Badalamenti pleaded guilty in a US district court.
Halliburton has already pleaded guilty to the unauthorized deletion of data.
The contractor is the third of three major companies at the heart of the huge oil spill to admit criminal wrongdoing.
BP and rig operator Transocean have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the disaster.
Halliburton was BP's cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded.
Mr. Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton, and is being accused of instructing his program manager to delete computer records.
The program manager "felt uncomfortable" about what he was asked to do, but still complied, according to prosecutors.
Another Halliburton employee also deleted data after receiving instructions from Mr. Badalamenti, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.
Last month, a federal judge accepted a separate plea agreement calling for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Mr. Badalamenti’s conduct. Halliburton also agreed to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.
Halliburton notified investigators from a Justice Department task force about the deletion of data. Efforts to recover the data weren’t successful. Badalamenti is the first to plead guilty.
BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine await a trial next year on manslaughter charges stemming from the rig workers’ deaths. They botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the well blowout, prosecutors say.
Former BP executive David Rainey is charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing from the blown-out well in 2010. Former BP engineer Kurt Mix is charged with deleting text messages and voicemails about the company’s response to the spill.
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