$20 billion may not cover oil spill claims

July 11, 2010 at 4:29 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. administrator of the $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill said he doesn't know if that will cover claims that will ultimately be filed.

"Until the oil stops, you don't know how pervasive the oil spill will be, so you don't know if somebody who has not been harmed at all today will be harmed by additional oil next week," Kenneth Feinberg said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

"Once the oil stops, I believe we'll be able very quickly to get sort of a handle on the comprehensiveness of the claims population."

In recent days, Feinberg said, he's been shuttling between meetings, sometimes filled with frustrated and angry people, in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

"People are uncertain. They're worried about their financial certainty. It sure would help if the oil stopped. That's one problem I've got," Feinberg said. "But they're worried. They're angry. They're disappointed. They're frustrated.

"We're trying to deal with it by going and meeting with them. You've got to walk into the lion's den. You've got to be prepared to take the heat. ... It's part of the territory."

With tens of thousands of gallons of oil gushing into the gulf daily, Feinberg credited BP with opening 35 claims offices and sending 1,000 claims workers. Within a few weeks, Feinberg said, more people would be brought on to speed claims processing.

He said some victims are being offered immediate emergency payments to help them get by for six months.

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