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Environmental Law

Kevin Costner & Trial Lawyer Partner Come to BP’s Aid With Oil Spill ‘Vacuum Cleaner’

Posted May 20, 2010 4:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Desperate for ideas about how to contain a record-breaking oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has turned to a movie star and his trial attorney partner for help.

The oil company is going to give six centrifuge machines developed and donated by Kevin Costner a whirl this week, to see if they can suck in contaminated water, retain the oil and spit out 97 percent pure seawater as advertised, reports the New York Daily News.

Placed on a barge to do the job, the Ocean Therapy machine developed by Costner Industries Nevada Corp. works "like a big vacuum cleaner," says Costner's business partner, Louisiana trial lawyer John Houghtaling.

The 55-year-old actor put tens of millions into developing the machinery after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, the newspaper recounts. His brother, an engineer, played a major role in creating the equipment. Costner says he's lost $40 million so far, but is "just really happy" to be able to step in to help contain the underground leak.

It is spewing over 200,000 gallons a day into the ocean, according to a current estimate. Costner has 300 of the Ocean Therapy machines, which are licensed by the Department of Energy. The largest can clean 200 gallons of water a minute, faster than the oil is leaking, Houghtaling says.

Costner has been trying to market the machines since 1993, and apparently may have had more success in doing so with BP because of his high profile as a major movie star. Other inventors complain that they, too, could help the oil company clean up the spill, but are being ignored, reports the Associated Press.

However, a BP spokesman tells the news agency that the company is happy to accept help but needs time to consider the offers.

Additional coverage:

WDSU: "Actor Kevin Costner Helps Fight Oil Spill"

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