At a cameo appearance at a congressional hearing on the Gulf oil spill, actor Kevin Costner announced that 32 of the half-million-dollar centrifuge machines he’s been proposing for use in Gulf cleanup operations have now been ordered by BP. His business partner says they hope to have the machines, which separate oil from water, out on the water by the end of August.
Although Costner used his charm to soften the blow — assuring the hearing that he wasn’t there because he’d “heard a voice in a cornfield” — he indicated that the pumps could have been manufactured and deployed much sooner if the industry weren’t loath to invest in cleanup technology. He also said that regulators trapped his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, in a “Catch-22″ situation, forbidding unapproved machinery to be used on actual oil spills while requiring testing in real spills before granting approval.
In terms of how much of the spill the machines could actually filter, Ocean Therapy Solutions says that 32 of them could clean six million gallons of water a day. Costner has invested more than $20 million of his personal fortune in the technology.