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Gulf oil spill: 'Kevin Costner solution' has green light, but no green

Actor Kevin Costner's oil-spill device has all the approval it needs to scoop the goop from the Gulf of Mexico, but is waiting for money from BP, according to the actor and his business partner.

BP has issued a letter of intent to buy 32 centrifugal oil-and-water separators, Costner said Thursday. His company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, was ramping up its operations to ship more than two dozen of the massive stainless steel machines to the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

“Kevin has spent 15 years and $24 million of his own money on this technology, and we have spent over $1 million more than that on adjusting the machines and preparing them for testing,” said Costner’s business partner, Louisiana attorney John Houghtaling. “We haven’t gotten a check yet from BP. The sooner it comes, the sooner we can act.”

Deployment of the 2½-ton machines had been delayed by rigorous testing requirements of BP and federal regulatory agencies, as well as engineering challenges posed by leaked oil that had degraded over time into gooey masses with the consistency of peanut butter, Costner said.

“Our machines were originally developed to operate as first responders” to oil slicks, Costner said. He said the problems were resolved by adjusting the machines to accommodate oil that has been weathered and hardened by evaporation and dispersants.

“The machines don’t have to be tested anymore,” Costner said in a brief telephone conversation. “We’re ramping up our operations. Where they will go is not up to me. That will be decided by BP and local parishes.”

Ocean Therapy officials acknowledged that full implementation of the systems may depend on how quickly BP pays for the 32 it committed to Wednesday. The company’s largest machine – the V20 -- sells for about $500,000, an amount Costner suggested “is a potato chip to a giant oil company like BP.”

Costner began working on the novel way of sifting oil spills while making his own maritime film, "Waterworld," released in 1995. He bought the technology, originally developed with help from the Department of Energy, after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, and turned it over to a team of scientists and engineers for fine-tuning.

The machines essentially operate like big, floating vacuum cleaners, which suck up oily water and spin it around at high speed. On one side, it spits out pure oil, which can be recovered. The other side spits out 99% pure water.

The company’s largest machine is 112 inches high, weighs 2-1/2 tons and cleans 210,000 gallons a day of oily water.

If all goes according to plan, Costner and Houghtaling said they hope to sell as much of the oil reclaimed by their machines as possible, and donate 80% of the proceeds to parishes struggling to cope with fouled marshlands and devastated fisheries.
-- Louis Sahagun
Comments () | Archives (72)

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The technology is obviously safe. I don't know why a centrifuge even requires approval, even if it is a 2.5 ton one... similarly, it should be a no-brainer for BP to immediately buy or rent a batch of these under a contract that ensures they get what they paid for...

Ummmmm isn't there a Kevin Costner who is an engineer and NOT an actor? If I remember correctly I read an article about how he was designing hummers that could get 60 mpg. That would make more sense.

Ok this sounds promising. Now can you make this sucker really big. Power it with say a 450hp engine, stick them on the decks of a few Trailer Suction Hopper Dredges and process 15,000 to 50,000 gallons per minute? I would think just one hopper full of recovered oil would almost pay off the cost of the ships conversion and outfitting.

Why is everyone laying into BP? Halliburton are the ones responsible.

Oh wait, BP are foreign.

PS There's a reason nobody has bought these machines, a standard Olympic sized swimming pool contains over 800,000 gallons of water, if the largest machine can only treat 210,000 gallons a *day* you'd need 100,000 machines for your average sized oil spill.

If BP buys the machines and decides where they are placed, wouldn't BP own the separated oil, and continue to profit? What incentive would they have to really cap this thing? Are we talking about a perpetual oily Gulf? GREAT!!

So, i notice one important item of info missing here: When where these devices approved by the feds? BP said they where going to buy some of these devices on Wednesday. So, I will assume that on Wednesday they where still in un-approved status. Which means they where prob. approved either Thursday the 10th or Friday the 12th. Why would BP Issue a "Letter of intent" and not straight out buy the centrifuges if they where in approved status? Are we really going to get on BP's case for waiting 24-48 hours to send a check to Kevin Costner? The question that really needs to be asked is what took the Feds so long to approve this Technology in the first place? I'm not defending BP, but i would like to see BP giving at least as much leeway as we give the federal government.

This is insane!! That there is a way to help this and it hasn't been deployed. To think that people worried about making money is what is allowing so much precious life to die. BP, our government, and costner should all be ashamed. and we all need to start writing obama and our congresspeople to make this happen--NOW.

Besides Costner and Cameron, what are any other Hollywood celebrities or recording artists with all their millions doing to help the Gulf? They run off to Africa, Haiti, all over the world to help during disasters in those countries, but I haven't read much about any of them helping out down there by holding huge sing-alongs, apecial recordings or shows, or raising money and volunteering down there. No Gulf Aid concert yet? Are Brad and Angelina doing anything considering they bought in New Orleans? OK to travel to Haiti after an earthquake but not to an area in their own country? If anyone has links to articles I'd love to see them so I can prove myself wrong about this.

As I understand it, for every barrel of oil spewed out – lost – poured out in a disaster, a fine will be imposed. It would seem that this knowledge has been behind the reason BP initially downplayed the estimate of oil at 5000 barrels per day. Now that a tally can be kept of what is being piped aboard the other rig and boats that will store, for processing, this oil, a better estimate of the fines accruing can be made.

This will not of course include all the millions of barrels of oil BP has dispersed – via the use of toxic chemicals – into the waters of the gulf, and possibly worldwide!

I mean if you can’t see it, you can’t count it – so therefore it isn’t there coz YOU can’t prove it!

Sounds boring and full of overwrought drama - kinda like a Kevin Costner film.

I hope that KCs' machines do the job! This is going to get a lot worse when hurricanes start their run in the gulf.

We may face Benzene Oily Rains.

BP better get off their ass and start vacuuming!!!

What does it take to get this in motion? It does make one wonder if "they" (BP, gov't, etc) are allowing this catastrophe to reach levels that are unimaginable.

Great news! Pray it will work, and BP will PAY!!!!


What the heck are they waiting for??? Really BP?! You have a way to straighten things out... someone is willing to help and you waste time! I wish I had the money to help. This really shouldn't be such a hard choice to make. In case they haven't thanked you, Mr. Costner, I will! Thank you IF and WHEN this gets done!

OK... if Costner's system works... what the "HE-double hockey sticks" are we waiting for? $500,000 a unit X 32 units... $16,000,000! That's a drop in the bucket for the US compared to the ecological (first) and economical (second) devastation this WILL cause! Why are people waiting around for BP to buck up??? This is our continent... lets take some action and pony up for this. And then... lets go after BP profiteers for dragging their oil slicked asses over this... of course... that is... if the system works?... which given a letter of "intent" from BP... would lead you to believe there might be something to it.

You gotta wonder what the heck is going on here...

As if all the random idiots on the internet who are suddenly experts on stopping oil spills a mile under the ocean aren't bad enough, now we've got washed up celebrities trying it too?

Please join the campaign WE'VE HAD ENOUGH and download this song by Michael jackson starting June 14th till the 25th.
Download mp3 from itunes or amazon uk and make the song climb up the chart. Send a message to the destroyers of our wonderful planet.

Retaining 20¢ on the dollar (if approved) is still hell of a lot of money to make off any disaster. His lawyer business partner is making Costner look like a bit of a schmuck.

Hey this is a great idea ...Why has this not been employed since day one ...instead of poisons being used to get rid of top kill or even burning wich does nobody any good

I think Enviro Vorxal has a good machine too. There is plenty of oil slick to go around!

Why doesn't Costner approach the Feds directly with his system? Or give the Obama house a call ? I'm sure Costner had contributed enough to the Democratic campaign funds so that his call would most probably be picked up.
I known they all, Obama, Gates, Mullen, whoever it is that's in Interior, keep saying that BP is so much better equipped to deal with this than even they are, but here's a chance for the Feds to actually do something other than stand around and look stern.

incredible....who would have thought costner was a visionary beyond filmmaking etc....this world needs more celebrities like him!

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