BP spill silences once bustling shipyard (VIDEO)


NEW ORLEANS – It’s the silence that Mike Hinojosa, the president of Midship Marine, finds the most disquieting.

“It’s quiet – quiet as can be right now,” he said.

In a place known for its activity and noise, his shipyard in Harvey is at a standstill right now.

The last ship building contract at Midship Marine was fulfilled this week, leaving more than 50 workers without a job.

“We just have a huge gap in our production,” Hinojosa said. “Had it not been for the spill, you would see production in here right now.”

Hinojosa said the BP oil spill slowed his business and then eventually ground it to a halt.

Orders for charter fishing vessels and crew supply boats along the Gulf Coast stopped coming in.

“They backed off on the contracts they were going to give to us because of the uncertainty of what was going on,” Hinojosa said.

Which a few days ago led to the layoffs of the remaining employees, including David Stanley, who had worked here for more than a dozen years.

“I filed for unemployment three days ago. Going to look, try to find another job,” Stanley said.

Early this past summer Hinojosa filed an emergency claim for his business with BP and later with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, administered by Ken Feinberg.

Hinojosa sent several years worth of financial documents, and the GCCF sent representatives to check out his business. He said they told him he had a legitimate claim.

That was nearly a month ago, but so far, Hinojosa has not received any money.

“We submitted what we’ve made the past three years, we’ve given them all our tax reports,” Hinojosa said.

A spokesperson for the oil spill fund would not comment on Hinojosa’s specific filing, but in a statement to Eyewitness News, he said, “The GCCF is still paying emergency payment requests that are in the system. We expect all emergency payments to be made by Dec 15.”

So Hinojosa waits, hoping an emergency payment comes through and that the employees he had to let go will be in a position to eventually return.

“They’re like family.”

See video here: http://www.wwltv.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/BP-spill-silences-boat-builders-business-111705189.html

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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