Gulf Business Owners Say BP's Not Paying Claims

Artificial reef. CBS

At Reef Maker in Orange Beach, Ala., workers are still building artificial reefs but because of the oil spill the company is not allowed drop them in the Gulf.

Company owner David Walter says he last brought in money on May 1st, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. He filed a claim with BP on May 6 for the $350,000 he expected to make in May, June and July. He says the first office lost his paperwork, the second office told him he didn't qualify and the third office told him to hire an accountant.

"I'm at the point now where I'm starting to borrow on credit cards," says Walter. "And that's the only resource I have left and I don't know how much longer I can hold out."

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Robert Grant's accounting firm is handling claims for more than two dozen small businesses in Alabama. Grant says no small businesses have been paid yet.

BP says it's paid more than 18,000 claims so far worth $49 million. It's not clear how many are large checks to small businesses?

"The process is not trying to hold money back, it's trying to get money into those people's hands who have had a legitmiate impact from this spill," says BP COO Doug Suttles.

Alabama's governor, Bob Riley, is sending in the National Guard to walk people through the process.

"I don't know what the National Guard can do unless they hold a gun to their head which would be fine with me," says Walter.

Walter's million-dollar boat used to carry reefs into the gulf is now part of the clean-up but BP still hasn't signed a contract or agreed to a daily rate.

Asked if he felt nickel-and-dimed by BP, Walter says, "Well I don't even think I'm going to see the nickel."

He's now collecting four years of invoices to send in to claims representatives.
  • Kelly Cobiella

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