Kevin Costner May Play Role in Gulf Oil Cleanup

Kevin Costner's water cleansing machine. WWL-TV

If you build it, they will come.

It was true in Kevin Costner's classic film "Field of Dreams" and it may prove true again, as an oil-cleaning device financed by Costner is being considered by energy company BP in its efforts to recover from the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP approved a test of the Ocean Therapy machine, a centrifugal processing device that separates oil from water that was developed by a group of scientists funded by the Hollywood star following the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989, reports CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans.

"The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate at unprecedented rates," Ocean Therapy Solutions CEO John Houghtaling told WWL, who added that "Costner has been funding a team of scientists for the last 15 years to develop a technology which could be used for massive oil spills."

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According to the company, one machine can clean up to 210,000 gallons of water per day, separating the oil and storing it in separate tanks.

Oil has been spewing since the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded off the Louisiana coast April 20, killing 11 workers, and sank two days later.

BP and the Coast Guard have said about 210,000 gallons of oil a day is gushing from the well, but professors who have watched video of the leak say they believe the amount is much higher.

BP has tried several unsuccessful methods to contain the oil, but earlier this week managed to insert a tube into one of the leaks and says it has been sucking about 42,000 gallons a day to the surface.

BP is preparing to shoot a mixture known as drilling mud into the well later this week in a procedure called a "top-kill" that would take several weeks but, if successful, would stop the flow altogether. Two relief wells are also being drilled to pump cement into the well to close it, but that will take months.

Meanwhile, scientists waited anxiously Wednesday to see where the massive oil slick might be heading.

Tar balls that had floated ashore in the Florida Keys were not linked to the spill, the Coast Guard said Wednesday, but that did little to soothe fears a blown-out well gushing a mile underwater could spread damage along the coast from Louisiana to Florida.

U.S. and Cuban officials were also holding talks on how to respond to the spill, a U.S. State Department official said Wednesday, underscoring worries about the oil reaching a strong current that could carry it near the Florida Keys and the pristine white beaches of Cuba's northern coast.

The official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
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