The Associated Press is reporting that “…more than 8,100 people and businesses have been offered final payments from BP’s oil spill compensation fund, but few have accepted so far,” which really shouldn’t surprise us. The low-hanging fruit has already been harvested.
The emergency payments leading into the quick-hit $25,000 payments for business claims and $5,000 for individuals probably found anyone desperate enough or otherwise motivated to reach a settlement. Now comes a much more difficult process.
The numbers are very low, with only 2.5 percent settling, says the AP, also reporting that “…the data also show that the 204 claimants who have accepted final payment offers for all past, current and future damage from last year’s disaster got an average of $12,188.”
We should note that people have 90 days to consider their claims offers, and various negotiations surround that process. The issue is further complicated by those who contend that previous agreements not to sue BP and its partners may not be valid, and still others who are asking for court oversight of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. There is no end to potential scenarios.
What does seem clear is that, for many of Gulf residents, the financial clock continues to tick, and losses continue to mount. We see almost daily that the impacts of the spill are far from over for both the environment and human health. We don’t even know yet what is killing all the dead dolphins washing ashore in record numbers.
So also thrown into the “final settlement” mix is a complete lack of clarity as to when the Gulf will fully recover (if ever). What will the impact be on the fisheries, and how long will it last? How long will it take for tourists to come back in full force to Gulf Coast beaches? How long will it take the Gulf seafood industry to rebound? There are countless questions tied to damages. Researchers, both independent and otherwise, have reached wildly differing conclusions in regard to recovery time for the Gulf. A BP-funded Texas A&M study claims the Gulf will be back to normal by 2012 while noted UGA marine scientist Samantha Joye, among others, say we won’t even begin to see the impact on Gulf fisheries until 2012.
In that context, the AP’s widely distributed story about the 2.5 percent settlement rate can’t be welcome news for anyone hoping to put the spill into our collective rearview mirror.
Here’s the AP report via Yahoo: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110302/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill_claims_2
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