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Feinberg pledges to issue spill checks within 24 hours

Posted On: Aug. 20, 2010 12:00 AM CST

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg)—Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, said he intends to issue emergency payment checks to individuals within 24 hours of an application for losses tied to the BP P.L.C. oil spill.

Checks for businesses will be issued within seven days, Mr. Feinberg said Friday in a statement releasing protocols for the $20 billion fund. Emergency claims can be filed from Aug. 23 through Nov. 23, Mr. Feinberg said.

“Having the emergency protocol in place is the first step to helping the people on the path to recovery,” Mr. Feinberg said in the statement.

The nine-page protocols outline the details Mr. Feinberg provided during congressional hearings and in meetings with Gulf Coast residents and local officials. The bar for proving a loss will be lower for emergency payments than it will be for a final lump-sum claim, Mr. Feinberg has said.

State and federal laws will guide Mr. Feinberg in determining eligibility for payment, according to the protocols. The document covers claims from individuals or businesses that spent money to remove oil, own property damaged by oil, lost profits from the spill or subsist on natural resources harmed by the oil.

Mr. Feinberg will also administer claims for physical injury and death. Eleven workers died when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded then sank in April, triggering the largest U.S. offshore spill.

Interim payments will be subtracted from the final payment, according to the protocols. Claimants also must submit any earnings made from alternative employment during the period for which they seek additional compensation.

Mr. Feinberg has pledged to be “more generous” than the courts in making payments to victims of the oil spill.

In accepting final payments, claimants waive their right to sue BP. Mr. Feinberg told Bloomberg News in a phone interview last week that he expected to begin writing final payment checks after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in late November.

Copyright 2010 Bloomberg