Actor Kevin Costner said Thursday that having BP use his company's device to help with the Gulf oil spill cleanup is "not a Hollywood ending for me."
He told a Senate committee on small business that he's been working for more than a decade in hopes of having the cleanup machines on hand for immediate use in spills.
"Clearly, there is a market out there," said Costner, who has invested more than $24 million to develop the portable devices.
BP has contracted with Costner and Ocean Therapy Solutions to use 32 centrifuge machines that are designed to separate oil from water.
Costner said all major oil companies should keep the device nearby, like a fire extinguisher, ready whenever accidents occur.
The centrifuges can fit on fishing boats or docks and clean 200 gallons of water per minute — 210,000 gallons per day, Costner said.
The actor appeared at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to talk about the challenges small businesses face in getting the government and BP to evaluate their ideas to clean up the Gulf oil spill.
Navigating the system is like "playing a video game that no one can master," Costner said. And many government agencies and foreign and U.S. oil companies were unresponsive even after seeing the oil-water separator years ago.
Costner said the device had been sitting at a Nevada facility for 10 years until BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles recently called him.
"He was excited," Costner said. "He told me that the machine worked. He told me that it was working against the dispersants, that it was handling the variations of oil mixtures and thickness present in the Gulf."
Costner said other small businesses like his have ideas that could be used in the oil spill relief effort.
"If we can find oil thousands of feet in the ground at depths that boggle the mind," Costner said, "then surly we have the technology to clean up our own mess."