Alabama trails both Louisiana and Florida in oil-spill claims approved and dollars paid by Ken Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility, according to data released late Friday by officials running the process.
Baldwin and Mobile counties are among the top three recipient counties, according to the data, which also showed that more than 38,000 claims were pending.
A spokesman for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said that he was concerned about the speed of the payments, and that the governor spoke to Feinberg on Friday.
Riley “told Mr. Feinberg that victims’ claims must be paid now, and the speed of the payments must be accelerated,” spokesman Todd Stacy said Saturday.
The new data provide the first hard numbers about the Gulf Coast Claims Facility process since Feinberg took over oil spill compensation from BP PLC on Aug. 23.
The data show:
- Florida claimants have received the most payments: 4,323 for $25.8 million. Louisiana claimants got the most money: $43.8 million from 3,580 claims.
- Alabama is third in both regards, with 3,279 claims paid worth $19.6 million. Mississippi is fourth, with 1,154 claims paid worth $10.3 million.
- Claimants in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana have received $12.1 million, the highest total for any local jurisdiction. Payments totaled $11.3 million in Baldwin County and $7.4 million in Mobile County. In Mississippi, the claims facility has paid $5.5 million in Harrison County, $3 million in Jackson County and $55,000 in George County.
- The claims facility has approved 13,462 claims and denied one. It has sent 3,420 back to the claimants with a request for more paperwork. The remaining 38,481 are waiting to be reviewed.
Feinberg has said that he has 25 people working in shifts around the clock to review the claims. They are able to get through an average of about 1,000 a day, he said last week.
More than half of the checks paid to individuals and nearly half of those paid to businesses were for less than $5,000.
Claimants are allowed to request payments either as a lump sum worth six months of lost earnings or profits, or in monthly installments. The facility has not released information on how many people and businesses have chosen each option.
Feinberg was appointed by President Barack Obama to pay individual and business claims out of a $20 billion fund set up by BP, the majority owner of the well that spewed 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
A spokeswoman for the operation said Feinberg will be in Orange Beach on Wednesday afternoon for a town hall meeting about the claims process. No further details were available as of Saturday evening.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said he is disappointed in Feinberg’s operation. The claims are being paid too slowly, he said, and the checks are too small.
“We have multimillion-dollar claims outstanding,” he said. “I can’t find a business they’ve made whole.”