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Gulf Oil Spill Victims Should File Claims Now: Feinberg

Gulf oil spill victims should begin filing claims as soon as possible, Ken Feinberg, head of the $20 Billion Fund to help victims, said Thursday.

Kenneth R. Feinberg
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Kenneth R. Feinberg

In a written statement, Feinberg said that time was of the essence and that, "I urge all those who have suffered financial loss as a result of the oil spill to file a claim as soon as possible."

Feinberg was given the job of overseeing a fund set up by BP to pay the victims of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He will be traveling to Louisiana and Florida on Friday to begin work. Feinberg said he was honored to be picked to head the distribution of the funds and will work "tirelessly to provide prompt, appropriate compensation to all those victims of the disaster."

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday thatBP would set aside an initial $20 billion and that Feinberg would administer the fund to oil spill victims.

Feinberg, 64, has also overseen payouts for victims of Agent Orange, is managing a multimillion-dollar settlement for ground zero workers exposed to toxic dust and set guidelines for paying top corporate earners as Obama's pay czar.

Named to head the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Feinberg had to weigh applications from victims' families and distribute awards from a $7 billion-plus pot based on an estimate of what each victim would have earned in a lifetime.

The oil-spill fund could be more complicated to administer than the Sept. 11 fund, which had a finite number of potential claimants. The eight-week disaster in the Gulfisjeopardizing the environment as well as the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people across the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.