Oil spill administrator says $5B in claims paid

August 23, 2011 - 2:45 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The fund set up to compensate victims of last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has paid more than $5 billion in claims, the fund administrator said Tuesday.

Washington D.C. lawyer Kenneth Feinberg also released a summary of payouts from the $20 billion fund, which was established in August 2010 to help people whose lives and businesses were hurt by the spill.

The report says the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had received 947,892 claims from all 50 states and 36 foreign counties. It said 359,441 claims were paid and 430,000 were denied. Some are pending. Others are still coming in.

"The GCCF has largely succeeded in its primary objective — to compensate those individuals and businesses who can demonstrate financial harm due to the Oil Spill," the report says. "The compensation program has not been perfect; but several midcourse corrections have been made in an effort to deal with the constructive criticism offered by victims of the spill, public officials, and others."

Critics say the claims process has been too slow, difficult to navigate and lacked transparency. The critics include Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who sued Feinberg in July to get access to claims filed by coastal residents. Hood says he wants to make the claims process more transparent.

According to the report, Florida had the most paid claims, with 150,920 totaling more than $2 billion. Louisiana followed with 115,702 claims paid totaling about $1.5 billion. Alabama had 53,681 claims paid totaling $862 million. Mississippi had 30,193 claims paid totaling $387 million. All other paid claims, 8,945, totaled $262 million.

The report said 61,558 new claims were received in the past three months, an average of 4,397 a week. The claims process is to remain in place until August 2013.

Eleven workers were killed April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana. Some 206 million gallons of oil spewed from the well a mile beneath the sea, according to government estimates.