HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (
) -- Kevin Costner is suddenly playing a starring role in the effort to contain the
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
On Wednesday, in what will almost assuredly be described as the longest of long shots, BP gave the 55-year-old star of such films as the post-apocalyptic "Water World" approval to test six devices developed two decades earlier, after the
Valdez oil spill, by a company funded largely by Costner.
The centrifuge devices work by sucking in contaminated water and separating the oil from the clean sea water. The Army Corps of Engineers has given its stamp of approval for the method.
BP, whether primarily out of frustration with the continuing attacks on its oil spill efforts or not, approved the use of six of the $24 million centrifuges, marketed under the brand name
Ocean Therapy Solutions
"If you build it, they will come," the classic line from Costner classic movie
Field of Dreams
, was never supposed to refer to oil centrifuges and oil giant BP.
Costner told a press briefing in Louisiana on Thursday, "I'm just really happy that the light of day has come to this ... It's prepared to go out and solve problems, not talk about them."
Costner's scientist brother, Dan Costner, helped develop the oil centrifuge, which is just one among many energy market technologies in which the Costner brothers have invested. Costner has often lost money on his energy device investments, according to estimates he provided to the press. Costner spent $26 million to develop the oil spill cleanup centrifuge, first obtained a license for oil centrifuge from the Department of Energy in 1993, and has been promoting it ever since.
Costner, who also played Robin Hood before Russell Crowe's more recent turn in the role, sees the oil centrifuge technology as a potential white knight for BP. "We moved this through a technology that we know works," Costner said, who is a partner in Ocean Therapy.
BP continues to have some measure of success using a tube connected to the leaking well to siphon off oil.
BP has increased its estimates of the amount of oil flowing through the siphon to 3,000 barrels a day from 1,000.
The total amount of barrels leaking from the oil spill each day may be much higher, though. Many scientitsts, cricitzing BP's estimate of 5,000 barrels daily as a lowball, say the actual rate of the leak could be anywhere from 50,000 barrels a day to 70,000 barrels.
On Thursday morning, BP agreed to a request from Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) to shoot live video of the oil leak, located 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, and make the feed available to the public through a congressional web site, www.globalwarming.house.gov.
Scientists are not only criticizing BP, but the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for conservative estimates of the leak rate. On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the government was at work on getting a better estimate of the underwater well's leak rate out to the public, and that the government has nothing to hide. It has, however, been four weeks now since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, and the 5,000 barrel a day estimate has been clung to by BP since the early days of the crisis.
Meanwhile, the live feed of the leaking BP well on the Congressional web site is not the only new place where the leaking oil can be seen. Oil tar balls have been spotted for many days already, and huge underwater plumes of oil continue to attract criticism from the scientific community. On Thursday, there was evidence of the first heavy crude oil from the spill reaching Louisiana shores, said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl.
-Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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