+Scientists are huddling in Tampa as they prepare to begin an ambitious study of the oil spill’s health effects on some 27,000 cleanup workers.

+Spill victims frustrated with the Gulf Coast Claims facility are turning to a seperate federal fund (more after the jump).

+Endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, whose nesting season began at the hieght of the spill, have begun to hatch and started their swim from the shores of Mexico across the Gulf, toward the site of the Deepwater Horizon, as documented by Vanity Fair.

+In a move some hope will boost tourism, federal fisheries managers have opted to re-opped the recreational red snapper season starting October 1.

+At a meeting with oil industry representatives and other stakeholders, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called for improved spill-response technology.

+Participants in BP’s Vessels of Opportunity Program should expect payment within a month, a company official says.

+The site of the Deepwater Horizon blowout has become an underwater laboratory teaming with scientists.

+The summer’s oil spills have contributed to a public relations crunch for the fossil fuel industry, but that has failed to translate into tangible political gains for environmentalists.

Frustrated spill victims turn to federal fund

ProPublica reports that some oil spill claimants who haven’t found relief under Kenneth Feinberg’s protocol with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility are turning instead to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center.

Claimants who have applied to the Coast Guard’s fund have reported swift intake of their claims and direct contact with their adjusters. But the fund is available only to applicants whose claims have been rejected or who have waited at least 90 days after applying without a decision, and has narrower eligibility guidelines and less money available than Feinberg’s operation.

“If someone’s not happy, they can submit a claim to us,” said Tom Morrison, the chief of the Claims Adjudication Division at the Coast Guard’s fund. But he cautioned that his decisions would not necessarily be any more generous than those reached by Feinberg, and that certain types of claims considered by Feinberg, such as physical injuries and health problems, will not be accepted by his office.

The Coast Guard’s fund was created by a 1990 federal law passed in the wake of Exxon Valdez disaster, which established new regulations and liabilities for oil companies that cause spills. The law says that a spill victim with a damage claim first must approach the responsible party — in this case, BP, which since Aug. 23 has been represented by Feinberg’s operation. A claimant can file with the Coast Guard’s fund only if the claim is denied or if no decision is made for at least 90 days. Here’s more about how the process works (PDF).

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