By Andrew Restuccia - 04/19/12 09:43 PM EDT
Thousands of people affected by the BP oil spill will receive $64 million in additional compensation after an independent audit identified “significant” errors in the claims process set up after the disaster, the Justice Department said Thursday.
The independent audit, conducted for the Justice Department by an outside consulting firm, found that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) did not adequately compensate 7,300 individuals and businesses.
“While there’s no question that the independent GCCF labored under extremely challenging circumstances to get a huge number of payments processed successfully, the fact that this audit has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being made available to claimants who were wrongfully denied or shortchanged underscores the importance of the audit,” Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West said in a statement.
BP agreed in June 2010 to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the oil spill. President Obama later tapped Kenneth Feinberg, who headed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, to oversee the distribution of the money at the GCCF.
Feinberg has come under fire from Gulf Coast lawmakers, who alleged that claimants have not been adequately compensated.
Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderLawyer claims death threats after anti-Black Lives Matter lawsuit Adviser: Obama can’t ‘erase decades’ of racism Airbnb enlists civil rights leaders in discrimination fight MORE ordered the independent audit of the GCCF after visiting the Gulf Coast last summer and meeting with victims of the spill.
The GCCF doled out about $6.2 billion to more than 220,000 people in the years since the spill. The facility was shut down after BP and the attorneys representing victims of the spill came to an estimated $7.8 billion settlement.
The independent audit found some instances in which claimants were overpaid, but the GCCF will not request that the money be returned.
In addition, the audit found 2,600 claims that were wrongly denied, but will not receive additional payments, “because their claim files did not contain information needed to determine whether the claimants sustained a financial loss,” according to an executive summary of the audit.
The audit comes one day before the two-year anniversary of the oil spill, which dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers.