***UPDATE 2: Short-term (one and six month) settlements won’t require waiving right to sue but lump-sum settlements will*** (http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/08/23/gulf.oil.disaster/?hpt=T2)
*** UPDATE: Fineburg may now allow claimants to retain right to sue *** (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-22/bp-spill-fund-manager-feinberg-says-victims-may-retain-ability-to-sue.html)
original post follows:
BP and federal agencies are working in concert to cover-up the Oil Disaster’s long term effects while new rules force victims receiving settlement checks to sign away their rights to future damages
New protocols were announced last week requiring recipients of settlement checks from the Gulf Oil Disaster to waive their rights to future lawsuits against BP and other contractors. After the Valdez spill, similar settlements were made forcing people who received checks to agree to sign documents that would prevent them from collecting any future damages. When the effects persisted over years, with detrimental effects on fisheries, people who signed the agreements had no further recourse. The details of this new settlement process for the Gulf came days after the Department of Fisheries partially lifted a fishing ban in the Gulf and the publication of a NOAA report declaring that an astounding 75% of the spilled oil had been removed from the gulf by clean-up efforts and natural processes. This report was later retracted by NOAA after two major scientific studies documented two different vast under-sea oil plumes but not before receiving widespread coverage by the mainstream press.
One report, published by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts documents a vast plume of dispersed oil over 20 miles long to the southwest of the disaster site. The other, published by the University of South Florida, shows a plume to the northeast, in and around the DeSoto Canyon, a deep underwater feature known for its abundance of diverse marine life. The USF report found that some of the oil from that plume is settling on the bottom while other parts of it may be flowing up towards the coast of Northwest Florida. While much of this oil is suspended below the normal habitat of most of the larger sport fishing species, it may be impacting smaller fish that live deeper and serve as a major food source for the larger fish, transporting nutrients that settle to the depths back up towards the surface. The true impacts to Gulf fisheries will likely not be fully apparent for years to come.
One of the researchers involved in the USF study has since reported being harassed by officials at NOAA who he says intimidated him in an attempt to suppress the oil plume findings. Additionally, there is evidence of clandestine disposal of dead wildlife along the Coast. Combined with the documented cozy relationship between BP and the Federal agencies who are supposed to be keeping them honest, it paints a dismal picture. The well still isn’t permanently killed, the schedule for that keeps changing, and Transocean, the owners of the sunken rig, claim that BP is still withholding critical data about the accident. Still, victims of the Gulf Oil Disaster are expected to relinquish their rights to compensation for future damages in order to get a settlement check.