Gulf oil spill victims weary of wait for payouts

Gulf oil fund payout numbersOriginally published by USA Today.

Written by Rick Jervis

Robert Campo once believed the TV commercials by oil giant BP that promised to “make it right” and compensate those along the Gulf Coast who lost work during last year’s disastrous oil spill.

More than a year after the spill ruined his oyster beds, however, Campo is still waiting for what he believes is full payment. The $20 billion fund created by BP to compensate those ruined by the spill has offered him less than one-third of what he requested. He’s still waiting to hear why.“I’m not looking for a handout. I’m just looking for them to make right what they did wrong,” says Campo, an oyster fisherman from St. Bernard Parish, La. “It’s taken way too long.”

Campo joins a chorus of local fishermen, seafood processors, hoteliers and others who say that nearly a year since it opened its doors, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that administers the BP fund has not moved fast enough to pay those hurt most by the spill. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an independent audit of the fund. Kenneth Feinberg, the fund’s administrator, has agreed to the audit, scheduled for sometime this year.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid nearly $5 billion in claims to about 200,000 claimants, one of the largest payout efforts in U.S. history, according to the facility.

The fund was started in the wake of the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, which killed 11 workers and unleashed more than 170 million gallons of crude into the Gulf. BP leased the rig and assumed most of the responsibility for its aftermath.

Local officials and some claimants say the facility has improved in recent months after earlier complaints of taking too long to process claims and not clearly explaining why some were rejected. Customer service at the facility’s Gulf Coast offices, for example, has improved and claimants are at least getting answers on the status of their claims, says Tony Kennon, mayor of Orange Beach, Ala., an early critic of Feinberg and the fund.

Continue reading article at USA Today.

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