WASHINGTON, DC (WALA) – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby Thursday met with claims administrator Ken Feinberg, regarding the oil claims process progress in Alabama. After the meeting, Shelby released the following statement…
“The GCCF is not acting with appropriate urgency. Many small businesses have received inadequate payment and explanation, if any at all. I called today’s meeting with Mr. Feinberg because victims on the Gulf Coast are frustrated and because I am frustrated.
“Over the past several months, I have visited the Alabama Gulf Coast many times to survey firsthand the damage caused by the BP oil spill. In the intervening time, my office and I have been in close contact with local leaders and residents affected by the disaster. Businesses along the Gulf Coast are not only trying to survive now but also prepare for the next tourist season, which is quickly approaching.
“I raised a number of issues with Mr. Feinberg today. First, there is no clear formula to determine payment of a claim. Filers deserve clarification as to why their claims were denied or their payments were less than expected.
“In addition, I made clear to Mr. Feinberg my concern that there is no process for claimants to submit an appeal prior to a final payment. These victims deserve a fair opportunity to appeal inadequate payments, particularly in light of the lack of transparency, clarity, and consistency in the payment process.
“Finally, Mr. Feinberg and the GCCF must eliminate the backlog of claims that were already submitted to BP. These claims have been outstanding the longest and need to be resolved expeditiously.
“Mr. Feinberg pledged that he would create a task force to address these concerns. This task force will be on the Alabama Gulf Coast within two weeks. Any business that believes it was treated unfairly will now be able to file for an interim payment every three months for the next three years. Mr. Feinberg stated he would re-evaluate the original payment and provide additional payments if necessary. Further, no claimants will have to sign away their right to sue.
“I appreciate Mr. Feinberg’s pledge, but I will be monitoring the situation closely to see that it is fulfilled. I told him to address these issues and meet back with me after the task force visits Alabama to show me exactly what steps were taken to resolve these concerns.”