BP Gulf oil spill compensation fund to begin payouts

image captionKenneth Feinberg oversaw compensation for victims of the 11 September, 2001 attacks

A $20bn (£12.9bn) fund to compensate victims of the BP oil spill is set to begin accepting claims applications.

Independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg pledged swift action and said payments would be more generous than those that would be awarded by a court.

But he said those seeking compensation must give up their right to sue BP.

The fund is to reimburse Gulf of Mexico residents and businesses for lost wages and profits and for personal injuries and clean-up, among other claims.

BP has already paid $368m in claims since the April spill.

The oil spill, which began 20 April with the explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, caused widespread disruption along the US Gulf Coast. An estimated 206 million gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf before BP capped the well last month.

Documentation required

The spill affected fishing and tourism and fouled some beaches and marshes in several US states.BP claims fund 'to begin payouts'

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, as the claims programme is known, was set up in June amid fears BP would fail to heed President Barack Obama's demand that it reimburse Gulf Coast residents for their losses.

"I want to make sure the people in the Gulf understand we will not let you go out of business or lose your home," Mr Feinberg said in a statement on Monday.

He has pledged to issue emergency six-month payment cheques within 48 hours of receiving claims from individuals and with seven days from businesses.

Mr Feinberg, who was appointed by Mr Obama, has vowed to fight fraudulent claims. The fund requires claimants to document their losses in their applications for compensation.

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