Just over a week ago, when Kenneth Feinberg took over handling of damage claims from the Gulf oil spill, he promised to cut through the delays and confusion common under the much-maligned BP system. But Feinberg’s goals – particularly his pledge to respond to personal claims for emergency payments within 48 hours – may be overly ambitious. Applicants say that they have not received responses within two days of filing claims and have encountered an array of service problems.
All 125 commercial vessels working to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been ordered back to shore temporarily after four workers on three separate vessels complained of headaches, chest pain, nausea and dizziness. A Coast Guard official said the smell of petroleum, heat or fatigue could be the cause. Workers were not given respiratory protection equipment because air sampling concluded that the level of chemical exposure was permissible.
A whistleblower filed suit Monday to force the federal government to halt operations at another massive BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging that BP never reviewed critical engineering designs for the operation and is therefore risking another catastrophic accident that could “dwarf” the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill. Former project control supervisor Kenneth Abbott alleged that BP never confirmed systems and equipment on the Atlantis platform were built as intended and didn’t properly file the documentation that functions as an instruction manual for rig workers in the case of a blowout or other emergency.
The chemicals BP is using to break up the steady flow of leaking oil fin the Gulf of Mexico could create a new set of environmental problems. BP has deployed an estimate 100,000 gallons to dissolve the crude oil, both on the surface and deep below. Dispersal is considered one of the best ways to protect birds and keep the slick from making landfall. But the chemicals contain harmful toxins of their own and can concentrate leftover oil toxins in the water, where they can kill fish and migrate great distances.