BP soon will stop handling most Gulf oil spill-related claims and will direct people to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, led by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg.
"Effective Aug. 23, GCCF will be the only authorized organization managing business and individual claims related to the Deepwater Horizon Incident," BP said in a statement reported by CNN.
Feinberg is charged with independently administering the $20 billion escrow account BP established to compensate for damage that the Gulf disaster caused.
BP, which said it has paid $368 million in claims so far, will continue to handle claims by government entities.
In related news, a major environmental watchdog group called for more stringent testing of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, where the fall shrimping season begins this week, CNN reports. The state of Alabama reopened its coastal waters to fishing and shrimping on Monday.
The National Resources Defense Council released a statement saying it sent letters to the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-signed by almost two dozen Gulf Coast groups.
The letters asked the government agencies to:
- Ensure that there is comprehensive monitoring of seafood contamination.
- Ensure public disclosure of all seafood monitoring data and methods.
- Ensure that fishery reopening criteria protect the most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and subsistence fishing communities.
"With the opening of shrimping season and near daily reopening of fishing areas, seafood safety is a major issue right now," Gina Solomon, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council, said in the statement. "The government needs to show it is putting strong safety criteria and testing standards in place to ensure that the seafood from the Gulf will be safe to eat in the months and years to come."