News / Arts & Entertainment

    Costner's Dream Machine Separates Oil from Water

    In a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill, lawmakers heard about the challenges of capturing the oil which continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon oil rig on April 20.  The panel included scientists, government officials and an Academy Award winning actor.

    Kevin Costner came before the House Committee on Science and Technology not as a movie star, but as a concerned citizen and entrepreneur with an idea that could help in the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Haunted by images of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill, Costner saw promise in a technology that could separate oil from water.

    "[It's] a technology that I believe that had the potential to fight catastrophic oil spills and serve as the first line of defense in the oil spill cleanup and recovery," Costner said .

    Costner invested more than $20 million in a company to design and build the machine. "The biggest plus is that it would be easy to operate."

    Essentialy, it's a power vacuum that sucks up as much as 760 liters of polluted seawater a minute, spins it through a centrifuge, separates out the oil into a holding tank and dumps the clean water back into the sea. But Costner told Congress that his enthusiasm for the project was outmatched by apathy from government and private industry.

    "The list of government agencies, oil companies and foreign companies we contacted reads like a 'who's who' of those who needed it, those who should have been looking for it and probably more to the point those who should have been developing it themselves," he explained.

    Costner was told the device was too expensive.  That there was no need for it.  That oil spills were infrequent. But, Costner said, when spills - large or small - did occur, he stepped forward.

    "We would offer to take our machines out there,"he said.  "And we couldn't get out on to the spots because the Coastguard would regulate that we couldn't get there. This kind of ineptness silenced the company," said Costner.

    One reason explained Nancy Kinner, co-director of the Coastal Response Research Center at the University of New Hampshire and another member of the panel testifying before lawmakers, was issues of trying new technologies during a spill.  

    "You have to be sure that you are not increasing the risk by using those technologies," she said.

    Nor, Kinner said, can the U.S. deploy controlled spills on water - like controlled forest fires - to test technology.

    "They do it in Canada. They do it Norway. There is no opportunity to do it in this country, and I think we need to open up that possibility," said Kinner.

    The technology deployed so far in the Gulf - booms, skimmer boats and dispersants - hasn't advanced much since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the largest to date before the disaster in the Gulf.  Albert Venosa, who directs the Land Remediation and Pollution Control Division of the Environmental Protection Agency's National Risk Management Research Laboratory, testified that many unknowns remain about the impact of oil dispersants in the water column, especially at great depths.

    "We've never had to deal with a deep sea blow out like this before, especially at 5,000 feet below the surface," he explained.  "So no, we don't know what the long-term effects will be and we didn't know it 51 days ago either," he said.  

    Venosa added that the risks and benefits for each action must be weighed. "And, no matter what you do there is going to be something that is going to be damaged."

    The risk could be minimized, according to Kevin Costner. He called on lawmakers to consider the valuable role his machine could play. Earlier in the week he got some good news. BP, which has been testing the device, has placed an order for 32 additional machines that will soon be deployed in the Gulf.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures