BP completes oil spill payments, complaints remain
BP hit a milestone in the last week of September as it completed its payments to seafood companies resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, but it is still hearing complaints about the way it has gone about remunerating companies hurt by the environmental disaster.
Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed claims administrator for the BP oil spill settlement, announced the final round of payments, totaling US 520 million (EUR 463 million), last week. The entire settlement program is expected to wrap up over the next year, with the final tally of payments topping USD 10 billion (EUR 8.9 billion), Juneau said in a WWL TV report.
However, GO Fish, a coalition of fishing leaders in the Gulf of Mexico, is disappointed with the slow pace of claims payments. In addition, hundreds of fishing claimants were identified as potential fraud cases last December, a mistake that wasn’t resolved for several months, the report said.
“This could have been done a lot quicker instead of paying folks in dribs and drabs. Because every day you don’t have all your money, you lose value,” said Clint Guidry, a leader of GO Fish and head of the Louisiana Shrimpers Association.
Plus, Guidry and others believe that 12,000 fishermen were coerced into taking USD 5,000 (EUR 4,453) or USD 25,000 (EUR 22,265) "quick payments" under the BP-authorized claims program from mid-2010 to mid-2012.
"We believe the representations that were made to them were untrue, that ‘you’ll never do better, this is as good as you’re going to get,’ they were basically told," Joel Waltzer, an attorney who represented GO Fish and many other fishing and coastal communities, told WWL TV. "And for those 12,000 people, a good portion of whom got severely under-compensated, it’s just not fair."
Meanwhile, Juneau believes that the final payouts are “a great thing for the Gulf region, it’s a great thing for the seafood businesses.”
The largest group of unpaid claims in the last year are for business economic loss, according to Juneau. Around 70 percent of those claims have been paid so far, but some of the larger claims are yet to come.