Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth United States Technology

IEEE Looks At Kevin Costner's Oil Cleanup Machines 289

Posted by timothy
from the bright-guy-just-picks-bad-scripts dept.
richardkelleher writes "IEEE Spectrum takes a look at the machines developed by a company funded by Kevin Costner that are supposed to extract the oil from the Gulf waters. Is it possible that in the years since the Exxon Valdez, that Kevin Costner is the only one who has invested money into the technology of oil spill cleanup?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IEEE Looks At Kevin Costner's Oil Cleanup Machines

Comments Filter:
  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how he sent them the plans...

    I bet he put them in an envelope and gave it to the postman.

  • He wanted to get in on the lucrative go-juice [wikipedia.org] market, obviously.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:02PM (#32945062)

    He's got webbed feet.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:09PM (#32945098) Journal

      But he also dances with wolves, so he can't be all bad.

      • The dude dropped too much acid back in the 70's . . . he hears voices . . . and has hallucinations about baseball fields, and shit . . .

        Maybe if everyone on the coast does some Orange Sunshine, we can all just watch the oil separate itself from the water, and the oil will just walk away . . .

        Heavy, man . . .

        • by RDW (41497) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:43PM (#32945898)

          'The dude dropped too much acid back in the 70's . . . he hears voices . . . and has hallucinations about baseball fields, and shit . . .'

          Yeah, stay away from that stuff. I had a really bad trip a few months back - ended up in a movie theatre where they must have been showing 'Dances With Wolves', but it looked like all the Sioux had changed into weird blue aliens who were COMING OUT OF THE SCREEN at me. Someone gave me a pair of shades but they just made it worse. Crazy shit.

  • Actors.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by conares (1045290)
    When I was a kid back in the eighties, I always wondered what would happen if Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson and those other guys from all those war movies died. Real tough guys, just watching them fight made your face hurt back then. At some point, IMHO, Kevin Costner also reached that level of actorness. Back then I just thought "no more good movies, that's for sure". Kevin Costner just raised the bar. When he dies the world will go under.

    Oh yea...to me Chuck Norris was just a bitch-slapp
  • by Vexar (664860) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:16PM (#32945132) Homepage Journal
    Wow. I don't care if whatever Kevin Costner invested his fortune in amounted to something as hare-brained as a Brewster's Millions investment scam, he did something to try to prevent a dystopian future. Yay, Kevin! Even if the apparent goal of WaterWorld was to bankrupt Sony Pictures, you at least did something. I wonder if guilt motivated his actions at all? Oh well, all good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      Because it doesn't matter at all if it actually works, what matters is that we all felt good about it. P*sigh* The last 20 years of civilization and higher learning in a nutshell.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:21PM (#32945166) Homepage

        If you throw enough Linguini at the wall eventually something will stick.

        You will never get anything to stick to the wall if you never try.

        This is why freaks like RMS end up achieving something and the rest of us "sensible" people just end up as corporate drones.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          This is why freaks like RMS end up achieving something and the rest of us "sensible" people just end up as corporate drones.

          Now, for the first time in a long time, I don't feel so bad about being a corporate America reject.

          I just need to find some great thing to do....

        • by Rubinstien (6077) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:13PM (#32946080)

          It's called the "Unreasonable Man Paradox"

          "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

          -- George Bernard Shaw

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Hmmmmm? I would think that progress happens when the reasonable man finds better ways of adapting himself to the world. I suppose you could look at it either way though. Again, a witty phrase proves nothing,

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by garn1 (1794656)
          That is it! Throw Linguini at the oil spill! You, my friend, are a frikkin' genius!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by elrous0 (869638) *

          That's the same kind of misguided logic that makes people buy lottery tickets. Every day, millions of "visionary" inventors/pioneers/dreamers squander their time and savings on awful or/or unworkable ideas and dreams that fail miserably. But every blue moon one of them comes up with a good idea and succeeds. But no one does a news report on the millions who failed. Only the successes get publicized. This lionizes the inventor/pioneer/dreamer and creates the illusion that it's easier to succeed at such an en

  • by Mikkeles (698461)

    ' Is it possible that in the years since the Exxon Valdez, that Kevin Costner is the only one who has invested money into the technology of oil spill cleanup?'

    Well, he may not have been the only one, but it's obvious that the oil companies weren't; after all, they're only the causes of the problem!

  • by adosch (1397357) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:26PM (#32945186)
    This is just a sad point in our world as far as leadership and the quest for the almighty (falling) dollar is concerned. Corruption, apathetic business maneuvers, greed and the "things-are-going-good" mentality caused this whole oil spill to happen. FTFA, I think it's funny how the only plug against this whole centrifuge technology to clean up oil is based on what the end-quality of "oil" will come out of them? How about the end- quality of our oceans, sea life, beaches and aquatic mammals? We all know how oil cleanups work: if it looks good on the surface, time to move on. I hate to don my hippy hate today, but I'm ashamed to associated to humans sometimes.
    • by Jason Pollock (45537) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:50PM (#32945304) Homepage

      I think you should read the article again. :)

      The problem with the centrifuges is not the quality of the oil coming out. It's that they don't deal well with tarballs or dispersants. They need liquid oil so that it can be separated by spinning it.

      Since you're spinning it to get the oil to rise to the top, if it doesn't flow (tarball), or doesn't separate (dispersant), the device ain't going to work. That is what the article was saying.

                        "he worries that much of the oil being picked up now will be too heavily degraded or contaminated
                          with dispersants to be easily separated."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:50PM (#32945648)

        Thats easy to fix though. Just rm -r *.tar

      • People are thinking of oil recovery as a "film" on top of the surface of water. But could this technology be used on the bloom clouds of oil near the well head that have not coagulated into various forms of sludge?
      • by sonoronos (610381) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:56PM (#32946974)
        The "real" problem with the centrifuges that Costner invested in is that they can't possibly flow enough water to put a dent in the Gulf Oil Spill. The IEEE article's calculation of the centrifuge's capacity assumes they're basically sticking a hose right on top of the oil spill, which is hardly realistic. Even assuming that the majority of the oil spilled is in the first 3 inches of water, a 1 mile by 1 mile area would need to have 50 million gallons filtered. 3 of the centrifuges could process 600,000 gallons per day, and so would take 83 days to complete a 1 mile x 1 mile x 3 inch deep volume of water. With an oil spill covering roughly 8,000 square miles, 700,000 days would be required. So under ideal conditions (all the oil was concentrated in one spot and easy to collect), it would take over 6000 centrifuges to process the "ideal spill" in one year. I think the centrifuges could be quite useful for filtering small, localized areas (protected wetlands, beaches, coves, etc), but the open ocean is just so massive that no device could effectively take care of it. In my opinion, a solution leveraging nature itself would be ideal.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RockDoctor (15477)

          Your volumetric estimates are not incorrect, just inappropriate.
          I read the article and envisaged this sort of machinery as being used to process the mix of oil and seawater collected by the various skimming options, so that the centrifuge discharges wet oily sludge (to be taken to shore for processing/ disposal) and large quantities of seawater which is much less contaminated with oil. Since the oil industry is already full of equipment for taking slightly oily water and cleaning it better (the UK requireme

    • by wealthychef (584778) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:51PM (#32945310)
      We just need to tweak the rules of the game a little. A fair price has to be put on this kind of thing, so that oil companies will go broke if they screw up -- then we have to let them go broke instead of declaring them "too big to fail." Also, in this case, there appears to be a culture of negligence, and those responsible for the bad choices they made should be personally held accountable. Unfortunately, this last bit simply enriches lawyers, and I'm not sure what to do about that part. I guess writing really clear laws that have no doubt as to their intent and then letting human beings sort out the nuances rather than trying to describe everything in the law perfectly would probably help.
      • by thisissilly (676875) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:16PM (#32946108)
        oil companies will go broke if they screw up

        Call me cynical, but it would never happen. Instead, oil companies would take a lesson from Hollywood, and make every single oil well its own corporation, so any disaster would be insulated to a single small corporation that goes broke.

        • by Miseph (979059) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:16PM (#32946784) Journal

          They already have to a large extent. The government didn't buy it, but if you check out the list of corporate names involved with Deepwater Horizon, you'll see a lot of corporations which are basically just fronts for BP.

        • by Al Dimond (792444) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:17AM (#32947534) Journal

          Typically you guard against this by instituting a capitalization requirement, ensuring that companies involved in drilling have the money and/or the insurance necessary to pay likely claims in case of an accident. This is, in fact, practiced in the oil industry. As far as BP is concerned, it passes this test with flying colors. It has been and will be substantially hurt by the spill (its stock price has lost half its value and it's had to suspend dividend payments -- that's an indication of the magnitude, although I think the market has overreacted, I don't think BP's lost nearly half its value over this incident).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        I guess writing really clear laws that have no doubt as to their intent and then letting human beings sort out the nuances rather than trying to describe everything in the law perfectly would probably help.

        The idealistic notion you describe in the first part is exactly how laws started out. We ended up with the situation you describe in the second part because idealistic notions rarely, if ever, work in the real world.

    • by twisteddk (201366) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:59PM (#32945370)

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news.... But oil cleanup and spill prevention has existed outside the US for decades. Thing is that the US offers a "bounty" on contaminated SEAWATER, not on reclaimed oil. So this technology has been of little intrest in the country where it was born. And at the same time, because countries like Norway, Denmark, the UK and many others are so adept at drilling at sea, they ofcourse have all reasearched in spill cleanup and even prevention. For instance, it's the LAW to equip all wells with a remote controllable shutoff valve if you want to drill in the north sea. A device which could easily have prevented the BP spill, but wasn't used, because it wasn't a requirement.
      Similarly, noone in their right mind would have used chemicals in the case of the BP spill, simply because collecting the oil afloat is much simpler than if you weigh it down where you can't reclaim it, and it affects the eco system much more profoundly.

      That said, if the existance of these centrifuges makes the US more practical in their approach to spill clean up and prevention, I'm all for it. And if they can supplement or improove on existing technology I dont really care who funded their development. It could have been Mickey Mouse as long as the technology gets to make a difference, instead of being buried.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:52PM (#32945966) Homepage Journal

        For instance, it's the LAW to equip all wells with a remote controllable shutoff valve if you want to drill in the north sea. A device which could easily have prevented the BP spill, but wasn't used, because it wasn't a requirement.

        Sure about that? The accident blew through the blowout preventer.

        I remember reading about the pressures involved, they're higher than present in most guns...

        I'm not sure a separate shutoff device would have functioned itself, otherwise I'd have expected them to have gotten the well shut off a lot quicker - simply drop a valve onto the remains of the header, weld it on however they need to, then shut the valve. Not spend three months designing something that wouldn't look out of place on a rocket.

        • by Johnno74 (252399)

          I read somewhere that the blowout preventer had been damaged, and wasn't functioning correctly. And the operators knew this. You'd think the required action here would be to stop work until the blowout preventer was fixed, but no, apparently they only had a few days of work to go so they continued and hoped for the best (possibly under pressure from BP)

        • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:40PM (#32946900)

          Acoustic triggers are, by law, required on all offshore rigs in Norway and several other countries. Norway is, quite simply, the gold standard for sea drilling, and you have no idea what you are talking about.

        • More than a BOP (Score:4, Informative)

          by twisteddk (201366) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:50AM (#32948368)

          The devices that are mandatory in most of europe (funnily the home of BP being one of the exceptions, presumably because of the much more shallow waters they're drilling in there), are a little bit more than just the blowout preventer, it's a device which can be triggered in case of emergencies where the wireguided signals from the rig is unable to reach the BOP. They were, as best I can tell, developed after a problem with a platform sinking, same as what happened in the gulf.

          Not being an engineer, I'm really at a loss to explain the difference between the BOP installed at BPs site and the ones that are generally being required by most other offshore oil producing countries. But from what the engineers explained to me, these remote controlled shutoff valves would have been able to stop the spill once the pipe had burst, assuming the blowout preventer ofcourse worked (which some people have questioned, since the installed "dead-mans-switch" didn't activate it).
          From what I understand, it may have been that such valves were not installed because of the expense of installing them when drilling at these depths, and a furhter combination of BP not being required to use them, and also questioning of their effectiveness at these depths.

          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704423504575212031417936798.html [wsj.com] has some of the best graphics detailing the idea of the remote controlled switch. Again, the assumption being that the BOP is actually functioning. And from what I can understand, replacing or repairing a defective BOP IS possible.

    • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:20PM (#32945486)

      Is it possible that in the years since the Exxon Valdez, that Kevin Costner is the only one who has invested money into the technology of oil spill cleanup?"

      I'll bet that he wasn't the only one. A better question would be: would the same small company with the same clean-up technology garner as much congress attention and free press if it had not been headed and funded by a celebrity in the first place.

      Personally, I doubt it. As a society, we're still obsessed by celebrities. Companies or non-profits backed by celebrities often have a huge media advantage over competitors that have no celebrity-backing.

    • by RobVB (1566105)

      I think it's funny how the only plug against this whole centrifuge technology to clean up oil is based on what the end-quality of "oil" will come out of them?

      It's not THAT funny. If you're not filtering out "decent quality oil", you might as well not use centrifuges at all and just pump the oil-water mixture into a tanker and ferry it to shore-based facilities. The quality of the oil coming out is an indication of the quality of the centrifuge. That, and the quality of the water coming out.

      • I also understand that the Dutch also have technology to separate oil and water, though all I know about that is that it doesn't meet EPA regs for release water.

        Still, even if a device/technique only had a 50% efficiency, as long as it was cheap it'd still be worth it...

        IE take a 50/50 oil/water mix. After 'treatment' you store the 75% oil mix and dump the 75% water mix. Or, depending on how cheap/effective it is, you run the stuff through a second pass - store 88% pure oil and release 88% pure water. Su

  • by Jason Pollock (45537) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:35PM (#32945230) Homepage

    I seem to remember that a ship sank on the set of Waterworld, and they had to pay a tonne of money to clean up the resulting debris and spills. I can see how that lesson would have been a driver for developing a technology to make it cheaper. Scratch that itch!

    • IIRC, it was the whole atoll set! And they rebuilt another atoll, which is what caused the budget to be so huge.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:09PM (#32946054)

      I seem to remember that a ship sank on the set of Waterworld, and they had to pay a tonne of money to clean up the resulting debris and spills. I can see how that lesson would have been a driver for developing a technology to make it cheaper. Scratch that itch!

      I worked on Waterworld, like half the people in Hollywood. What sank was that artificial island they built. I wasn't on set at the time but it was a mess and cost them months. They also shot the first two or three months without a final script so they mostly shot guys riding around on jet skis. That why there's so much footage of those. It was the most waseful shoot I was ever on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pipingguy (566974)
        [waves fist] Finally I have someone to blame! You owe me $7.50 and 135 minutes of my life that I'll never get back!
  • The machines themselves are pretty simple - I believe they are like centrifuges that spin the mixture and separate the heavier water from the lighter oil. Not exactly rocket science there.

    The problem is of course collecting the material to run through such a machine. If you wanted to clean a bucket of oily water - that's you solution. A spill at sea is different though. You obviously can't run the entire ocean through his machine - so it's a matter of collecting the right "parts" to do so.

    This, of cours

    • by icebike (68054)

      The problem is of course collecting the material to run through such a machine. If you wanted to clean a bucket of oily water - that's you solution. A spill at sea is different though. You obviously can't run the entire ocean through his machine - so it's a matter of collecting the right "parts" to do so.

      Exactly so.

      There is no imaginable scale-up of this technology that could handle a spill of even a 10th this size in the open ocean, or even Prince William Sound.

      Currents disperse oil in sub-surface layers. You have to be able to intake water at various and sometimes extreme depths, in changing conditions.

      10 thousand small versions of these couldn't begin to do the job, and gargantuan scale ups wouldn't be nimble enough.

      These are best targeted toward protecting closed bays, river systems, marshes.

      And they n

  • Theory vs Practice (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadboltX (751907) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:52PM (#32945322)
    The machines seem to work well enough in tests; enough for BP to lease 32 of them right off the bat.
    TFA states that the machines are capable of separating 99% of the oil out of the water under ideal conditions, which would be soon after the oil began mixing with the water. Weeks/Months of time since the spill began, though, the water and oil mix becomes a frothy mousse which is more difficult to separate.

    I hope that the machines are still capable of collecting the oil from this mousse, even if at a slower pace than the more freshly mixed oil.
    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Monday July 19, 2010 @12:44AM (#32947420)
      Not just time, but the fact that BP has been dumping shitloads of dispersants into the ocean which serve to do NOTHING OTHER than make the oil mix better with the water. There isn't any way you could make this job any harder if you fucking tried.

      Anyone who has half a fucking brain, when asked the question "How do we get this oil out of the ocean", will not say "dump chemicals into the ocean that cause the oil and water to become nearly inseparable". BP, on the other hand, says "who cares if we get the oil out of the ocean, it's not profitable, more important is that we dump dispersant onto the spill to make the ocean surface look better to avoid bad press".
  • The only one? (Score:3, Informative)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:02PM (#32945386)

    Apparently the Dutch offered to send ships that could recover 97% of the oil a couple of months back, but they weren't allowed due to US environmental regulations:

    http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/dutch-oil-spill-response-team-standby-us-oil-disaster [www.rnw.nl]

    • Re:The only one? (Score:5, Informative)

      by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:10PM (#32945736) Homepage Journal

      That article is old. The dutch ships have been working in the gulf for a while now.

      http://www.examiner.com/x-325-Global-Warming-Examiner~y2010m6d15-Dutch-Skimmers-now-working-in-Gulf [examiner.com]

      -b

      • Re:The only one? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ducomputergeek (595742) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:49PM (#32945940)

        They are now, after the fact that things are really, really bad.

        They were rejected initially because they didn't purify the water "enough" for EPA standards. At first it was either because folks both at BP and government wanted to try the smoke and mirrors, "This is bad, but not *that* bad" until it became clear to everyone they were lying. Then it became a bureaucratic problem which after folks saw through the smoke and mirrors was quickly "solved" by taking the Dutch equipment and putting them on US ships and training the crews. Where as if we had allowed the dutch ships in to begin with, would have saved a lot of time.

        Which begs the question, why wasn't action done by the government sooner? All it would have taken was an executive order to allow these skimmers in sooner saying that in this case they could purify the water "enough". Because even if they can't purify 100%, anything they are going to do is better than doing nothing.

        • Which begs the question, why wasn't action done by the government sooner? All it would have taken was an executive order to allow these skimmers in sooner saying that in this case they could purify the water "enough"

          "Never let a crisis go to waste" - Obama's Chief of Staff.

        • by dkf (304284)

          Which begs the question, why wasn't action done by the government sooner?

          Because the oil-men in the oil industry regulator (hmmm!) didn't see the need to be more prepared. (The oil industry itself thought that hoping that nothing would go wrong was a more profitable option than preparation for disaster. After all, wouldn't want to reduce the profits announced to Wall Street for the quarter...)

      • No offense, but I've stopped responding to AC's.

        Procmail is even better!

  • by MisterSchmoo (1262374) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:10PM (#32945424) Journal
    I have done work with Allmaritim and trialed and tested their NOFI Oil Spill equipment equipment in New Zealand and this technology is neither new nor invented by Kevin Costner. It is very sophisticated equipment and has been around for a long time. Are we supposed to think that nobody has been working on oil spill tech until Kevin came on the scene and said "hey we should do something about this" we also do work with Slickbar another spill tech company http://www.allmaritim.com/ [allmaritim.com] http://www.slickbar.com/ [slickbar.com] if you go to their websites you'll find their kit is being used in the gulf, the company Kevin has something to do with, make centrifuges, you've got to collect the oily water first before you can separate it. You take Kevin Costner out of the story and the story is about some kind of cool oil separating centrifuges, not Kevin rushing in to save us from the oil which, we had in the meantime, been twiddling our thumbs and staring at.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:10PM (#32945426)

    There's a reason nobody's invested in this technology-- the numbers are just impossible.

    Cosner's machine can process 200 gallons per minute. If you take the extent of the damage, about 17,000 square miles, and want to run the top ten feet of it through his device, and you could afford to buy 100,000 of them, it would take.....

            1,830 years

    to process that amount of water.

    And scientists have found the stuff distributed a whole lot deeper than that.

    • I don't think those numbers are very relevant. This technology is only supposed to make the skimming operation more effective by allowing for more concentrated oil to be stored on the tankers. That in turn should mean less tankers, less money, less time etc etc. I imagine the skimming would still take place if this technology didn't exist, so at worst BP will have wasted a few million on them (boo hoo).
    • So why do it then? There are two possible scenarios.

      1. Simply for the PR of "we're doing something for the environment"

      2. To re-sell the captured oil to offset the cost of these machines. Maybe even profit from it.

      You would have to capture a whole lot of oil to make #2 a viable reason, which leaves #1 the most likely.

    • by Fred Foobar (756957) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:11PM (#32946760)

      Cosner's machine can process 200 gallons per minute. If you take the extent of the damage, about 17,000 square miles, and want to run the top ten feet of it through his device, and you could afford to buy 100,000 of them, it would take.....

      1,830 years

      to process that amount of water.

      And scientists have found the stuff distributed a whole lot deeper than that.

      Your calculation is about 3 orders of magnitude too high:

      (17000 square miles * 10 feet) / (100000 * 200 gallons per minute) = 3.37035066 years [google.com]

      But taking into account how much is far below 10 feet deep (as you mentioned), it would take quite a long time.

  • Well, according to Kevin, BP is screwed [youtube.com].
  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:52PM (#32945662)

    I think we should have a scoreboard for his machines. Post the operating logs and create a scoreboard. How many barrel of crude oil Costner's company was able to reclaim from the ocean and multiply that by the cost of crude oil. Then compare that to the price tag Costner charged them.

    They need a fleet of these machines able to be deployed anywhere in the world and they need to refine the machines or create others to bring the underwater plumes to the surface. The oil companies weren't ready when they should have been.

  • by Phil-14 (1277) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:17PM (#32945762)

    It's not that noone's ever made machines like this; many have, and the "industry leader" is a company called Prosep from Canada.

    Keep in mind that using these machines, as long as they're not absolutely perfect, violates the Clean Water Act, which mandates perfection so strongly that 95% solutions are penalized. The bureaucracy sat around for a couple months basically trying to decide whether to ignore the fact that Costner's machines, while good, violate their rules, more or less, which is why these machines are (as another poster pointed out) used much more outside the US than within it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chowderbags (847952)
      I'm a reasonable person who doesn't want to see the environment destroyed and all, but what idiot wrote a law saying that a cleanup effort must return something over 95% pure water to the ocean, rather than allowing for some purity level greater than the water coming in (at least for cleanup situations)? It sounds like the kind of boneheaded law that makes it much more likely for cleanup efforts to say "fuck it" and not do anything at all. Sure, getting it purer is good, but if you had something that could
  • Invested? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhath (637240) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @09:53PM (#32946678)

    Is it possible that in the years since the Exxon Valdez, that Kevin Costner is the only one who has invested money into the technology of oil spill cleanup?

    I'm certain the answer to that question is "No". Lot's of money has been invested. Smaller spills are quietly cleaned up. But this one was so big the politicians felt the need to get involved instead of letting the engineers who know what they're doing handle it. Of course, 'involved" mostly meant running around helplessly shouting "someone's going to pay for this".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Klinky (636952)

      Those fine engineers with their top hat, top kill and junkshot. BP engineers really had this one under control, only took them 91 days to get it to stop gushing. I am sure if the .gov wasn't running around holding BP responsible, the spill would have been stopped much more quickly. By magic or something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by red crab (1044734)
      An alternative technique of cleaning spill called "bioremediation" has been extensively researched by TERI [teriin.org] in the past decade. Bioremediation involves harvesting a certain type of bacteria that feeds upon oil waste. A technique called "Oilzapper" involves four types of bacteria feeding simultaneously on four different layers of oil. More of this in an article [indiatimes.com] in Times Of India.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

Working...