Oil Spill FAQs

September 1, 2010

Question: How do I file a claim?

Answer: Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, BP is paying "all legitimate claims for damages resulting from the oil spill and necessary response costs." This includes, among other claims, property damage and net loss of profits and earning capacity. At first, claims were being handled directly by BP, but the process has been transferred to a new Gulf Coast Claims Facility (www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com) headed by Kenneth Feinberg. (Feinberg also oversaw claims stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.)

Real estate professionals whose businesses may have been affected by the spill should contact their respective state associations to file a claim:

Question: What can I expect at NARdi Gras? 

Answer: The nearest Louisiana beach is 120 miles away from New Orleans. Nonetheless, the oil spill has sparked concerns about air and water quality as well as food safety in the city that will host the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in November. While tar balls have been found in Lake Pontchartrain, the lake is not a source of drinking water for the city; the New Orleans water supply comes from the Mississippi River.  Still, the EPA is monitoring water in the affected areas as a precaution.  The EPA also is testing the air quality of all Gulf Coast affected areas, and the air has been found safe. 

What about the famous New Orleans seafood? The short answer: Delicious as ever. Precautionary closures are in place in some of Louisiana’s fishing waters, but the majority of fishing areas—70 percent of the coastline—are not in the spill area and remain open and bountiful. Federal and state officials are monitoring the waters from which seafood is harvested and will act to close areas contaminated by oil.

Question: What can I do to help? 

Answer: Volunteering at cleanup sites requires special preparations, and untrained volunteers are urged not to travel to the spill sites. Advanced hazmat waste training is required to stay safe and healthy when handling oil, even if it’s just to pick up tar balls on the beach.  The affected wetland areas are home to wildlife breeding grounds that should be accessed only  by wildlife professionals to prevent destruction of natural habitats and abandonment of nests, and wildlife volunteers need to be trained in both hazmat and wildlife handling. The best thing you can do is support the travel and tourism industry throughout the Gulf, and donate to organizations that help wildlife and the wetlands.

Erica Christoffer
Product Manager

Erica Christoffer is the product manager for REALTOR® Magazine, driving growth and helping make data-driven decisions for the editorial products and programs that fall under the publication's umbrella. Erica also co-manages the magazine's 30 Under 30 program. During her tenure as an editor, she wrote and edited hundreds of articles for the magazine and launched the Broker to Broker section. Connect with Erica via email: echristoffer@nar.realtor.