Shrimp Company Lays Off Employees, Blames BP
Doran Seafood Also Blames Oil Spill For Slim Shrimp Catch
The largest employer in Independence, La., said on Tuesday it is being forced to lay off employees because there’s no money coming from BP’s $20 billion compensation fund.
According to DoRan Seafood owner Randy Pearce, it has been more than a year after the BP oil spill and months after other claims have been settled, but his company is still fighting to get its multimillion-dollar claim paid.
“You give all the paperwork (BP needs) — you do above and beyond. You give them everything. You bring in an outside certified public accountant to look at your paperwork to make sure the information is correct, but it just seems like a runaround. We’re getting nowhere,” Pearce said.
White shrimp catch has been slim, and Pearce said when coupled with the nonpayment, the company couldn’t help but lay employees off to keep operating.
“This is it. If there’s no seafood, there’s no ‘us,'” DoRan plant manager Jeff Schwab said.
Pearce said research shows that fish exposed to the spill could face reproductive problems, and he believes this is what happened to the white shrimp in the East Coast, from where they get most of their seafood.
“White shrimp every year, they lay their eggs on the beach. At the worst time possible, BP was spraying dispersants on the beach. And now, we are not seeing any white shrimp at all being produced in the state,” Pearce said.
Just like DoRan Seafood, Independence residents said they are also waiting for a settlement from BP.
“I’m a single mom, and I’ve got two little boys — 4- and 3-year-olds. I got bills to pay. I love this job,” DoRan employee April Cardona said.
“I’m going to school, and I’ve got to pay my bills. And if I didn’t have this (job), I don’t know where I’d be,” DoRan employee Whitney Anthoney said.
Pearce said he is appealing to the powers that be to step up.
“We’re going to fight. We hope that (Kenneth) Feinberg steps in, and (New Orleans Mayor Mitch) Landrieu and (Sen. David) Vitter, R-La., do the right thing. That’s all we’re asking — (for them) to do the right thing,” Pearce said.
Feinberg is the administrator of the Gulf Spill Independent Claims Fund.
WDSU called the BP compensation fund office in Washington to check on the status of the DoRan claim, but the calls were not returned.