Oil spill cleanup workers still waiting on pay


Officials with BP PLC told the owner of Bell Tech Consultants and Skimmers on Tuesday to send in delinquent invoices and pay workers who are waiting on checks that are also late, oil company representatives and workers said.

The Valdez, Alaska-based company has a contract to clean boats used to install boom and remove oil in local waters, Dawn Patience, BP spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“We found out yesterday that Bell Tech had not made reparations to some employees,” Patience said. “It became pretty clear that he was behind on his invoices and documentation to BP. We asked him to pay his employees.”

Patience did not specify a deadline for submitting paperwork, but said BP wanted the issue taken care of as soon as possible. “We asked him to resolve it immediately,” she said.

She said she could not comment on how much money was owed in invoices. She referred questions of back wages to Bell Tech, saying that the workers are employed by the contractor and not BP.

Calls to Bell Tech owner Randy Bell were not immediately returned Tuesday.

On Monday, employees told the Press-Register that they had not been paid wages that were due to them Friday. Worker Peter Norman of Gulf Shores said Tuesday that employees were still waiting on pay.

“They’ve got everybody sitting around the Theodore yard twiddling their thumbs waiting to be paid,” Norman said. “They said they couldn’t let us go until they get caught up with everyone.”

Norman said Monday that about 80 workers were waiting on payment.

Bell Tech began work in July cleaning boats at a 6,000-square-foot facility on Boggy Point in Orange Beach.

Patience said Tuesday that most boat-cleaning operations are complete, but the Bell Tech yard in Theodore is still open.

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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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