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Gulf Coast Fishermen Impatient With Pace of Oil Spill Claims

By Rhonda Miller | Published 23 Mar 2011 12:02pm | comments
Mississippi fishermen protest the slow processing of oil spill claims near the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in Biloxi.

Kenneth Feinberg, the claims administrator for the Gulf Coast oil spill, says fishermen with documentation are being paid as fast as possible. But MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports some Gulf Coast fishermen are not satisfied.

A dozen fishermen are standing outside the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in Biloxi. That’s the office handling payments for people who have losses because of the BP oil spill. Gulfport fishermen T.J. Hinton is one of those holding signs showing frustration with the slow pace of payments.

"..bog us down with paperwork until we’re starvin’ to death and we have to take whatever they offer. That’s the point where I’m at now," Hinton says. "If I don’t get money in about two weeks, I’m gonna be living out of my truck."

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, says he understands the fishermen’s frustration, but he says the claims are being paid as quickly as possible.

"We’ve paid thousands of fishermen in Mississippi and elsewhere. If some fishermen have not had their claims processed, it may be that they lack adequate documentation," Feinberg says.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange sent a letter of complaint to Feinberg earlier this week, charging the Gulf Coast Claims Facility with dragging its feet until victims are desperate to settle for anything.

But Feinberg denies those allegations.

"The idea that we are deliberately trying to delay the payment of what has now become over $3.6 billion to eligible claimants whether they’re fishermen or anybody else is just not true."

For those who have been affected by the oil spill and want to be included in a federal court case against Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded, the deadline is April 20. That’s not the same as filing with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. 

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Mississippi fishermen protest the slow processing of oil spill claims near the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in Biloxi.


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