by Sasha Chavkin ProPublica, Nov. 16, 2010, 11:43 a.m.
Since Gulf spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg took over from BP in late August, many claimants have reported that their applications have remained under review for months and that they have not yet received decisions.
Roughly 71,000 claims are currently under review, according to statistics from Feinberg’s operation (PDF). Feinberg’s program does not provide statistics on how long claimants have been waiting. But ProPublica and the Washington Independent have both spoken to numerous claimants who say their applications have been in limbo for over a month.
In an interview with ProPublica, Feinberg said that some of these long delays were caused by claims that created difficult policy judgments for his operation.
“There are some claims where we sit on that claim trying to figure out under the Oil Pollution Act, or under our guidelines, whether or not to pay,” Feinberg said, referring the 1990 federal law that guides the claims process. “We don’t want to deny it; on the other hand we can’t grant it. And we’re trying to figure out internally what to do.”