One new idea that BP has agreed to test came recently from the actor Kevin Costner, who, in the days after the gulf spill, formed a company called Ocean Therapy Solutions with a New Orleans trial lawyer, John Houghtaling, and other local investors.
The company, an outgrowth of 15 years of research financed by Mr. Costner in reaction to the fouling of the Alaskan coastline by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, has developed high-powered oil-water separators that have been described as giant vacuum cleaners on barges.
"The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate at unprecedented rates," Mr. Houghtaling, who is chief executive of Ocean Therapy Solutions, said. The most powerful of the machines can process 200 gallons a minute and produce water that is 99 percent clean of crude oil, he said. BP was planning to install six of the company's machines on barges for a test.
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