BP receives 450,000 compensation claims

British oil giant BP has received 450,000 applications for emergency payments from victims of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a figure that is unprecedented in US history for any large disaster.

Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg, tasked with overseeing the Gulf Coast Claims Facility fund, said that 450,000 applicants have filed for emergency payments, with more than half of that being filed within the past six weeks.

"That's about four times what I thought they'd be. It's unheard of and unprecedented. There's never been anything like this in American history," he said.

BP was forced in August 2010 to set up a $20-billion fund to pay for the clean up and to settle compensation claims arising out of its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 2010, which led to its Macondo oil well rupturing and spilling more than 200 million gallons of oil into the sea.

The fishing and tourism industry on the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Mexico, Texas and some parts of Florida were affected due to the spill.

While BP was overseeing the claims process, about 154,000 claims were filed, and 450,000 claims have been filed since 23 August, when the Gulf Coast Claims Facility was set by the US administration.

From May to July, BP paid out $400 million in claims, while Feinberg has paid out more than $2 billion since August from the claims fund.

Of the 450,000 claims received by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, 125,000 claims have been settled and Feinberg expects to settle another 50,000.

However, Feinberg noted that more than half of the 450,000 claims will be rejected since these applications do have either proper paperwork or bad paperwork or are fraudulent.

Feinberg said that of the 450,000 claims, about 30,000 were filed in just two days prior to the 23 November deadline of filing all claims.