In the rush to get compensation from BP after its massive oil spill, the $20 billion fund that the company created has been inundated with questionable documentation, inflated claims and in some cases, outright fraud — all slowing down the process for legitimate claims, the administrator of the program says.
Claims have been bogged down by the sheer volume of requests for money — nearly 98,000 — as livelihoods have crumbled since the April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil. Confusion and frustration have become the only constants for desperate fishermen and business owners.
Sales manager Jeff Silvers was shocked to learn that his building supplies shop just a half mile from the Alabama coast was not considered to be affected by the oil that sullied beaches and marshes, sent tourists packing and kept fishing boats idle at harbors.
Swift Supply, he said, lost a huge chunk of revenue because customers canceled plans to build docks, do home improvements and complete construction on new houses with the uncertainty that followed the explosion and oil gusher.
He applied for compensation from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is doling out BP’s money to oil spill victims, but initially got nothing.
“We were told we weren’t in the geographic area of the spill,” Silvers said.
Just last week, however, he got a check for everything he asked for.
It came as attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the fund, decided that proximity to affected areas will no longer play a role in compensation approval.
It’s the latest in a string of changes to the shifting process that has dragged on for weeks, with promises of generosity and fairness, but delivery of little more than apologies to many.
“I’m very happy, but there’s still a lot of businesses that haven’t been paid,” Silver said.
Heckuva job, Team Obama. Now gulf residents can blame the administration for the lack of funds while BP skates.
The rest here.