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For the past 15 years, actor-musician Kevin Costner has been funding a team of Ocean Therapy Solutions (OTS) scientists to develop technology to deal with oil spills. Last month, in response to the underwater oil disaster in the Gulf Coast region, Costner pitched OTS’s invention to help with the clean up.

The invention operates like a vacuum cleaner plus filtration system, removing 99% of the crude from the water. The contaminated water is drawn in, broken down and the oil is released through a separate tube. According to its website, the largest of OTS’s machines can clean water at a rate of 200 gallons per minute and extract up to 2,000 barrels of oil a day.

“The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate the oil at unprecedented rates,” said John Houghtaling, CEO of Ocean Therapy Solutions.

BP tested six of the devices last month before ordering up to 32 of them. Costner is please with the results, however he wants further steps taken. Testifying before the House of Representatives’ Science and Technology committee earlier this month, Costner asked for legislation to be developed with regards to the equipment that should be present on oil rigs. “We’ve legislated life preservers. We legislated fire extinguishers. We legislated lifeboats and first aid kits. It seems logical that as long as the oil industry profits from the sea, they have the legal obligation to protect it.”

For more on OTS solutions and on Costner’s testimony, go to www.ots.org.

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