LONDON -A coalition that advocates for those who were harmed by the April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Members of Operation People for Peace, are at the world headquarters of BP in the UK demanding compensation.
The campaigners say blacks, the most vulnerable and disenfranchised claimants, are being overlooked in favor of those with political connections who have been compensated handsomely.
The group submitted more than 10,000 claims and says there are many others affected and "suffering in silence who have lost their jobs, income and customers."
Five high-profile campaign officials flew from the US and set up a protest outside BP’s headquarters in central London. The group wants the British-owned company to pay out $488 million to the small businesses, churches, hoteliers and the ethnic minorities it represents.
Campaign chairman Dr. Art Rocker said: “Almost 90 per cent of our claimants are single parents with an average of two children. Their earnings are below the poverty line. They live in geographic locations and are engaged in occupations that were impacted most by the spill.”
Civil rights activist and satirist Dick Gregory said: “Kenneth Feinberg, a representative of BP who has been allotted $20 billion to settle the claims for damage caused by the BP oil spill, has done nothing to ease the pain of the poor and under-served. He has done nothing but make false promises of payment. I have come to the conclusion that his job is simply to block payments to poor people, not to settle them. “
A BP spokesperson told UK's The Voice: “Representatives from BP have already met Dr Rocker several times in our office in New Orleans, where we manage our Gulf Coast restoration efforts. We understand Dr Rocker’s concerns are with the payment of claims for compensation. As agreed with the US Government last summer, claims from individuals and businesses for compensation related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are handled by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which has so far paid out around $5 billion. The GCCF's claim administrators exercise their own judgment with respect to the evaluation and payment of claims. We have encouraged Dr. Rocker to reach out directly to the GCCF to resolve any outstanding issues.”
He added that even though the group had made no appointment, they had spent up to 45 minutes speaking with a senior representative of the company who dealt with shareholders concerns.
Faye Williams, head of the National Congress of black women and a BP shareholder, said: “I’m particularly interested in women and children. A lot of women who worked alongside the Gulf have lost their livelihoods and have not been paid. I’m concerned not just about what has happened to women and children now, but what happens to them in the future, with the environment being heavily damaged by British Petroleum. I know that mothers will have to worry about their children getting more cases of asthma and problems with their immune systems which means children will be sicker than usual.”
She added: “BP referred us to people who do not have the authority to help address our concerns, despite the fact that they knew we were coming to the UK. I think it was the highest form of disrespect.”
The group is calling for a mass boycott of BP.