BP has paid spill victims $3.8B to date

The administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil-spill compensation fund has paid out $3.8 billion to about 180,000 people and businesses affected by last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico spill, a new report released Monday says.

Kenneth Feinberg, who was chosen by President Obama to oversee the fund, has received more than 857,000 claims from 500,000 individuals or businesses. Feinberg has approved 300,000 of those claims.

The report was released just two days before the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, which dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean over a several-month period last year, devastating the Gulf Coast.

Feinberg, who took over the claims process in August of 2010, has come under fire from Gulf residents and officials who say that he is not moving quickly enough to dole out adequate compensation.

But the report released by Feinberg Monday says the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) has been successful in the face of the “unprecedented magnitude” of the oil spill.

“Both the volume and complexity of the claims pose a challenge to the efficiency and fairness of the claims process,” the report says. “The GCCF is accomplishing the objectives set out by the Administration and BP in establishing a payment program to compensate the victims of the disaster.”

The report continues: “The GCCF will continue to make whatever midcourse adjustments are necessary to promote expeditious resolution, transparency, and consistency of the claims process.”

Of the $3.8 billion distributed by the GCCF, $2.6 billion was approved for initial emergency payments; $998 million was approved for one-time “quick payments” of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for business; $222 million was approved for final payments; and $78 million was approved for interim payments.

The emergency claims period ended Nov. 23. Now, claimants have the option of filing for a lump-sum final payment based on their losses from the spill or a one-time quick payment. In order to accept those payments, claimants must agree not to sue BP or any of the other companies involved in the spill.

Claimants who have not yet determined the full extent of their losses from the spill can apply for interim compensation.

Responding to allegations that legitimate claims have been denied, the report notes that the Coast Guard has upheld the GCCF’s decisions in every instance in which a claimant has submitted a claim to the Coast Guard for additional review.

The GCCF has 35 claims offices in five states and employs 3,200 people. It will close its doors on Aug. 23, 2013.