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Halliburton 'destroyed' evidence after Gulf oil spill, BP charges

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As the rig's crew worked in April 2010 to wrap up operations at the Macondo well, a series of managerial mistakes and safety equipment failures compounded the failed plug and exacerbated the accident and ensuing spill, congressional investigators have found.

Monday's court filing by BP charges that two Halliburton employees said, under oath, that they destroyed notes and samples that gave insight into the stability of a cement slurry similar to the one that was used in the Macondo wellhead. One reason for discarding the data, one Halliburton employee testified, was concern that the data would be misinterpreted during a legal proceeding, according to the BP documents.

"Halliburton intentionally destroyed the evidence related to its nonprivileged cement testing, in part because it wanted to eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial," the BP filing says.

“Halliburton's role is at once the most limited – it was only doing a small piece of the job – but is also critical to the blowout that occurred,” says David Uhlmann, former chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes unit and now a law professor at the University of Michigan.

Aside from civil liability questions, the bigger worry for Halliburton, he says, is that BP's allegations, if substantiated in court, raise the possibility of criminal charges. “If evidence is destroyed in the aftermath of the nation's worst environmental disaster … that only increases the likelihood that they would face criminal charges and may also mean that they face additional obstruction of justice charges from the Justice Department,” says Mr. Uhlmann. 

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