US Coast Guard Updates NPFC Pollution Fund Claim Procedures
In response to large environmental disasters, such as the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the United States Coast Guard has announced that it has made adjustments to its National Pollution Fund Center (NPFC) claims processing procedures. The Coast Guard told the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that it would finalize changes to the standard operating procedures of its NPFC, Claims Adjudication Division to spell out specific steps for processing claims connected to an oil spill of national significance by October 31, 2011. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is known as the primary disaster relief funding agency, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for processing damage claims arising under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
The Coast Guard has advised that the updates will take into account important lessons learned while handling Deepwater Horizon claims, and specifically address the cost reimbursement procedures and procedures for processing claims due to oil spills of national significance. In the ten (10) years prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, NPFC received, on average, less than 300 damage claims per year. As of April 30, 2011, approximately 432 Deepwater Horizon claims have been processed. The adjustment to procedures aim to account for a large increase in claims submitted in the wake of national disaster was deemed necessary in light of the fact that standard operating procedures of the NPFC Claims Adjudication Division have remained unchanged since April 2004. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General is also performing an audit to ensure that the U.S. Coast Guard has produced sound policies and procedures to capture costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill.
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