Year After Gulf Oil Spill, Columbus Company Still Waits For Claim
By Tom Brockman
COLUMBUS, Ohio —
Aside from the environmental impact, the spill also impacted fish and seafood businesses throughout the country.
One Columbus company says more than a year after they filed a claim for losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, they still have not received a dime.
Even inside the freezer at Columbus Fish and Seafood on Columbus’ west side, Owner Frank Gonzalez is heated.
“This should have been resolved six months ago,” says Gonzalez.
“Three days later, we were denied,” he says.
It’s a decision he says they’re appealing, which means even more paperwork and more hoops to jump through.
“I mean we’ve got 12 inches (stack of paperwork) so what’s another couple inches because we’re not going to back down,” he says.
Thanks to good planning, he says the fate of his company isn’t on the line. He’s more concerned about the principle of the matter.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me that I can see, everything that you’ve asked, we’ve done. Whatever information you needed, we’ve done and 14 months later, we’re still at square one,” says Gonzalez.
So what’s going on with the claim? NBC4 wanted answers so we visited the Gulf Coast Claims Facility which happens to be in Dublin. NBC4 was told by a manager that no one at the facility was authorized to answer questions. They instead took contact information down and said they’d give it to one of their attorneys in New York.
NBC4 made that visit on Monday. More than 24 hours later that attorney still has not called back.
We aren’t the first ones to go to the facility looking for answers. In February, NBC4 cameras were there as Florida State Representative Doug Broxson made an unannounced visit and soon received an angry phone call from Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who has been appointed administrator of the $20 billion Oil Spill Fund.
“When you get no straight answers, when you have hundreds of people who get denied for no reason then you have to use desperate means and that’s what I’m doing,” said Rep. Broxson to Feinberg at the time.
“Do I think we’ll be paid in another week, another month, another two months, no,” says Gonzalez. “My gut tells me we’ll be lucky if we see the money probably within a couple years.”
According to a public report from BP released earlier this month, they have paid or approved to pay in the neighborhood of $6.6 billion in claims. That leaves more than $13 billion left in the Oil Spill Fund.
You can see the full report Tuesday on NBC4 at 11 p.m.