Kevin Costner, he of liberal Hollywood elite status, may be riding to the rescue of the deliberately careless drilling in the Gulf that lead to Deepwater Horizon’s tragic oil spill. Costner co-founded Ocean Therapy Solutions, which is now partnering with BP to deploy the machine that separates oil from water, known as CINC, in the Gulf. CINC uses centrifuge technology to clean up oil spills.
Costner testified about the device before a House Committee on Science and Technology Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Costner, another “Hollywood environmental greenie wacko” (thank you drill baby drill peeps, your self-serving opinions are perhaps best left to the sidelines for now), testifying before the House about a seeming Water Worldesque machine is tempting fodder for Field of Dream jokes, but BP has ordered 32 of Costner’s machines.
According to the Ocean Therapy Solutions’
Website, OTS’s Liquid-Liquid Centrifugal Separators spins two fluids of different densities within a rotating container so that the lighter fluid is forced toward the center of the rotor.
The House on Science and Technology provided Costner’s testimony:
“Our separator was designed for use in oil and chemical spill cleanup, oil production, remediation, nuclear waste and environmental cleanup, or any application that requires the separation of two liquids with a variety of viscosities…. CINC does not use chemical or biologic agents in its cleanup process. And separation is excellent: both oil and water outputs are greater than 99% pure, as opposed to skimming, which at best is 20% oil, 80% water and has additional storage and onshore treatment concerns….”
Costner noted, “If CINC is deployed in the Gulf it will surely encounter new mixtures, emulsifications and viscosities, which will require engineering attention and fine-tuning. These challenges can and will be met.” Costner likened the CINC machines to fire extinguishers for the oil industry, to be kept close at hand wherever oil and water have the opportunity to come into contact.
Costner continued, “Our President has made clear that he does not want to put Americans out of work, but the moratorium on oil drilling is now moving supply rigs overseas to foreign territories. Our President’s main concern, as I understand it, is to keep Americans out of harm’s way, by not allowing them to work in unsafe environments. CINC machines stand ready to be deployed for immediate clean up, but they also provide the unintended benefit of putting people back to work.”
It’s troubling to note from Costner’s testimony that he has been trying to get various governmental agencies to meet with his company since 1994, putting in particular personal effort in 2001 to meet with heads of the EPA and Dept of Transportation. He even hosted successful demonstrations of the equipment in April of 2001 for J. Lisle Reid, Regional Director of the Mineral Management Service.
Costner takes pains to point out that the government agencies should not be singled out:
“Between 1994 and 2004 we contacted every major oil company in the US in an attempt to gain their awareness and support for a technology that could both protect them and the environment in the event of a spill. The most apt word to characterize these interactions was apathy.”
Costner’s company is moving toward leasing 16 more CINC machines to Plaquemines Parish officials directly. “They say if BP won’t pay for that, they may sell the oil local officials pull from the water and fund the machines that way.”
In other words, Costner may soon be in the business of selling oil to fund environmental cleanup. Somehow this just feels right. At a time when despair is the prevailing emotion regarding the devastation in the Gulf, Costner’s closing statement was a deeply moving commitment to a positive environmental legacy for the Gulf. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope for a miracle from the most unlikely of sources.