Several meetings over two days, 2-300 people a meeting and so many, overwhelmingly critical of the GCCF’s Kenneth Feinberg who stood in front of everyone and extended his empathy, said he was doing the best he could, repeatedly said he would check into it, look it up, see what he could do while at the same time emphasizing the people harmed by BP’s oil spill have three options, quick, interim and final payments.
And by many accounts, he gave the appearance of listening.
But among the hundreds of complaints, a large number were critical of the form they must sign to receive the money, the form that waives their right to sue BP and over a hundred other companies for the damage done to the Gulf, the damage that has yet to be fully understood, by anyone.
And though Feinberg listened, nodded and promised, it would appear he heard nothing.
The administrator of the $20 billion Gulf oil spill victims’ fund isn’t yielding to pressure to change a release form that requires those accepting a final compensation payment to give up their right to sue. Washington attorney Ken Feinberg told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the form stands. He spoke to AP after a town hall meeting in Louisiana with spill victims.
Step right up, folks…this oil spill ain’t over, but your time to decide is running out…
Consider the fishing and environmental front:
Oil residue from the BP spill is still being hauled off by the truckload each day from the beaches of the barrier islands off the Mississippi Gulf coast. In another part of the Gulf set to reopen for fishing on Feb 2nd, a shrimpers’ nets are coming out of the water covered in oil. Florida Fishermen are dealing with the anxiety of knowing fish populations collapsed after the Exxon Valdez disaster. A flotilla of Wildlife and Fisheries boats sped into Bay Jimmy at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Plaquemines Parish, passing flocks of white pelicans, some still coated in oil. On Blood Beach, Mississippi, billions of baby clam and oyster shells washed up on shore. In the coastal areas of St. Bernard Parish, more than 8 months after the oil spill, their industry has come to a standstill; a fisherman adds there’s not much seafood to sell. At Grand Isle, LA, Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s environmental monitor Peter Brabeck said oil is rolling in on the beaches of the state park and nearby. “I’ve been here many times and I’ve never seen it looking like this,” Brabeck said of the oil mixing in with the beach sands, turning it black.
“A disaster. A catastrophe. Whatever you want to call it. Worst than Katrina,” said fisherman Emile Serigne.
And equally alarming, on the health front:
Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach stated he is finding disconcertingly consistent and high levels of toxic chemicals in every one of the patients he is testing, “I’m regularly finding between five and seven VOCs in my patients…these patients include people not directly involved in the oil clean-up, as well as residents that do not live right on the coast. These are clearly related to the oil disaster.”
Many of the chemicals present in the oil and dispersants are known to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal functions, irritation of the digestive tract, lung damage, burning pain in the nose and throat, coughing, pulmonary edema, cancer, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty breathing, delayed reaction time, memory difficulties, stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, and hematological disorders.
“I’m concerned with the illnesses like cancer and brain degeneration for the future. This is very important because a lot of the population down here may not have symptoms. But people are unaware they are ingesting chemicals that are certainly toxic to humans and have significant effect on the brain and hormonal systems.” Dr. Soto is most concerned about the long-term effect of the toxins, because they have “tremendous implications in the human immune system, hormonal function, and brain function.”
But all this notwithstanding, Feinberg and the GCCf require claimants to sign the no-sue clause to receive quick and final payments, and after doing so Gulf Coast residents will have no recourse anymore…
Fish depopulation? Ongoing health affects, a hurricane hitting the Gulf to stir much of the remaining oil back to the surface?
Feinberg held five meetings in Mississippi and Louisiana and listened to over a thousand people. Despite extending empathy and apology, he extended little else to anyone…
Shrimper Elmer Rogers, who broke down at the meeting in Laffitte, Louisiana, fell to his knees in front of the neutral arbitrator and pleaded with Feinberg, “I’m not asking for the world. I’m just asking for something to live on…Thanksgiving, my kids barely ate. I barely ate,” Rogers said. Christmas was even worse for his young daughter. “You know what she woke up to? No water in the house and no power. Let me go turn my water on. Let me go pay my bills,” Rogers added before dropping to his knees in front of a packed room. “What do I have to do, get down on my knees?”
When the Laffitte meeting was over, Feinberg commented “I fully understand the emotion, and I’ve got to deal with it.”
That’s nice and all to say to the AP, Ken, but according to your interview with the Associated Press?
You still don’t understand a damned thing.
Have a nice day.