Posted by MataHarley on 18 June, 2010 at 3:00 am. 61 comments already!

The parallel universe we live in gets more bizarre everyday. But from the looks of things, the Horizon oil spill clean up efforts could proceed faster, and more efficiently, if the fed wouldn’t help. Ain’t it always the way? And there’s nothing like a crisis to not only highlight the inefficiency of big government, but also bring some strange bedfellow competitors out of the woodwork.

While Obama lets Biden do the shaking down of BP, aborting BP’s due process rights, at the WH/BP long overdue meeting, BP has decided to move forward with new technologies for the clean up. Technology that the feds, themselves, have hindered heretofore.

Yes, folks… the good news is that BP finished testing Costner’s “Ocean Therapy Solutions” centrifuges, revamped for the hardened and weathered crude, and has issued a letter of intent to purchase 32 centrifugal oil-and-water separators. According to the newly ramped up Ocean Therapy Solutions site’s news updates, BP started testing the centrifuges onshore May 18th. By May 29th, OTS was given the go ahead to test the centrifuge on the open Gulf waters and the oil slick itself. According to a Newsmeat blurb today: BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles called Costner direct.

“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.”

According to the LA Times blog, linked above, rigorous testing had to be done not only by BP, but by the federal agencies, prior to their decision to acquire the centrifuges for the spill.

Deployment of the 2½-ton machines had been delayed by rigorous testing requirements of BP and federal regulatory agencies, as well as engineering challenges posed by leaked oil that had degraded over time into gooey masses with the consistency of peanut butter, Costner said.

“Our machines were originally developed to operate as first responders” to oil slicks, Costner said. He said the problems were resolved by adjusting the machines to accommodate oil that has been weathered and hardened by evaporation and dispersants.


“The machines don’t have to be tested anymore,” Costner said in a brief telephone conversation. “We’re ramping up our operations. Where they will go is not up to me. That will be decided by BP and local parishes.”

~~~

The machines essentially operate like big, floating vacuum cleaners, which suck up oily water and spin it around at high speed. On one side, it spits out pure oil, which can be recovered. The other side spits out 99% pure water.

The company’s largest machine is 112 inches high, weighs 2-1/2 tons and cleans 210,000 gallons a day of oily water.

As I noted in my June 11th post on the Costner brother centrifuges, the bureaucratic red tape and EPA regulations were as counter-productive to their efforts as the lack of interest by an oil industry who hadn’t seen the need for such equipment until now. Despite BP’s order, there’s not even a whisper in the reports that the EPA has waived it’s regulations, limiting oil in the waste water to more than the 15ppm. The centrifuges separate the oil, but the waste water discharge has about 1% oil in the discharge. This is the equivalent of 1.28 oz of oil residue for every gallon processed…. a vast improvement, IMHO.

Nor has OTS acknowledged whether their partnership with a UCLA engineer last year had yielded successful results in lowering the discharge levels. All of which begs the question, will the EPA turn a blind eye to the CWA violation with the discharged water?

Costner certainly gave the House committee a piece of his mind with his June 11th testimony, blasting the almost impossible battle to get past a behemoth bureaucracy.

“The whole world is watching as America fumbles its way through the greatest environmental disaster in history,” Costner told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at a hearing Thursday in Washington. “I believe there are other small companies out there in the private sector just like us. You should know that negotiating your way through the bureaucratic maze that currently exists is like trying to play a video game that nobody can master.”

As BP CEO Tony Heyward testified today, BP has been overwhelmed with suggestions and pitches for clean up cures and engineering ideas to cap the well. BP turned over thousands of those proposals to the Coast Guard for screening… where it’s met with another bureaucratic road block.

Rear Admiral Ronald Rabago of the U.S. Coast Guard testified that BP recently turned over the suggestions it has been collecting. The Coast Guard is now going through those thousands of proposals.

The EPA and the Coast Guard are also screening proposals coming in through their own, independent channels. But the process isn’t working so well: Of the 1,900 submissions the Coast Guard has received, only one proposal has made it to the final level of screening. None have actually been deployed.

The EPA doesn’t know if any of the ideas that came through its channel are actually in use, according to Paul Anastas, the agency’s assistant administrator of research and development. After screening the proposals, the EPA forwards the ideas to other agencies that could implement them — then never tracks what happens next.

As the big government machine chases it’s proverbial tail, we then come to the idiocy of the US Coast Guard, halting the work of 16 barges vacuuming off the shoreline of Louisiana after Jindal ordered them to work eight days ago. Why? The Coast Guard wanted to make sure the barges were equipped with life jackets and fire extinguishers…. and then had trouble contacting those who had built the barges. WTF?

Jindal, with no power to override the USCG authority, had to raise a ruckus before finally getting the USCG to relent. Over 24 hours lost work.

Alabama’s Gov. Bob Riley has his beefs as well with the chaos of the fed’s “help”….


Riley, R-Ala., asked the Coast Guard to find ocean boom tall enough to handle strong waves and protect his shoreline.

The Coast Guard went all the way to Bahrain to find it, but when it came time to deploy it?

“It was picked up and moved to Louisiana,” Riley said today.

The governor said the problem is there’s still no single person giving a “yes” or “no.” While the Gulf Coast governors have developed plans with the Coast Guard’s command center in the Gulf, things begin to shift when other agencies start weighing in, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s like this huge committee down there,” Riley said, “and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power.”

The Governors aren’t the only local officials fed up with federal response that is hindering instead of aiding the clean up… Florida’s Okaloosa County has simply told the feds, forget you and the horse you aren’t riding in on.

Florida’s Okaloosa county is telling the federal government it will no longer take orders in responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a decision made in response to the county’s deep frustration with the Obama administration’s response to the spill.

The county appears to be the first local government to openly flaunt the official response to the spill. Others, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have complained bitterly of inaction and red tape regarding their response to the spill, but have thus far refrained from taking measures not approved by the federal or state authorities. Even Jindal, though, has become more assertive in the last day, ordering the National Guard to start building barrier islands off Lousiana’s coast.

~~~

County commissioner Wayne Harris said leaders of Okaloosa County are prepared to face any consequences for their renegade response. It’s that important, he said, to protect the county’s Choctawhatchee Bay, which is “too wonderful to destroy ecologically.”

“Our frustration is we have to wait for allowance from the federal government … we decided to be our own unified command. We have to stop it before it gets here,” Harris told The Daily Caller.

It seems they have decided to erect an “air curtain” to push oil up from the depths. But with every plan they propose, the EPA is there in opposition.

Harris said federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have repeatedly opposed Okaloosa’s plans for responding to the spill.

“Some of the plans we put together, every time we turn around one of the other agencies says, ‘No, you can’t do that,’” Harris said.

Further, the government’s response is clumsy. “The Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the EPA all these different agencies aren’t talking to each other,” Harris said.

At one point, the Coast Guard “ran over” booms the county had put up to stop the oncoming oil, Harris said.

~~~

But just as crises make for great political agenda advances, they also make for strange bedfellows in the entrepreneurial world. Another star studded entrepreneurial crew beats the federal bushes for approval… Good luck with that, pals…

NFL’s Troy Aiken has teamed up with Jacques Cousteau’s son, and Drew Bledsoe, to peddle their oil/water filtration system, the Ecosphere Ozonix system. The pitch? It’s already in use (as is Costner’s), proven to work, and emits 100% pure water.

According to an article in the Missoulian:

The system, which takes up an entire 53-foot truck trailer, employs a combination of ozone, ultrasound and high-voltage electricity to separate oil, gas and other contaminants from water through a process known as sonoluminescence.

“The water that comes out at the end of the process is cleaner than bottled drinking water,” said Wold. “And the oil is pure enough that they can truck it up and sell it.”

The Ozonix system has already been deployed to help out in past ecological disasters. In the days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast in 2005, Ecosphere sent one of its Ozonix systems to Waveland, Miss. Operators stuck an intake hose into the city’s sewer system, and produced 70,000 gallons of fresh drinking water every day for area residents.

Wold said the company already has enough of the machines to completely handle the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

“If this machine was out there right now, there would not be any continuous leakage” said Wold, noting that one Ozonix system can process more than a million gallons of contaminated water a day.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Aiken’s interview with Shepard Smith:

Aiken’s information obviously is behind the times, as he states the “other” systems, likely referring to Costner’s high profile efforts with his oil/water separators, were not capable of handling anything but refined crude. Apparently he was unaware they had retooled, and field tested the modifications successfully. But as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier…. how about BP gets them both? There’s lots of oil to go around, at this point. Of course, considering the speed of fed approval and testing, Costner’s centrifuges may have already done the trick by the time the Ecosphere even gets some federal agency face time.

There’s another notable difference between the Costner centrifuge and Aiken’s Ecosphere endeavors…. cash and some old fashioned horse trading. According to Chad Wold, general counsel and managing member for Ecosphere Energy Services, the Aiken technology is far from cheap. And they aren’t willing to cut any slack.

“The next step is for BP to take a serious look at what we have to offer,” said Wold. “It’s not one of these things that’s free to operate. We need BP to step up to the plate and start paying for technology to put these machines out there.”

But their bid for technology and service is at a disadvantage with Costner, who’s already intercepted the pass in the first plays of the quarter, and headed for his own goal posts. The Costner factory is tooled up and ready to ship a couple of dozen… as soon as BP cuts loose with some cash. (uh….mmmmm Maybe that $20 bil slush fund could be redirected, ya think?) Not only are Aiken and Ecosphere johnny come lately on the scene with what they tout as their superior technology, OTS and Costner appear to have worked a more appealing deal with BP…. the machines at a lower price, and the oil they recover is part of their payment.

The plans are to sell the recovered oil from their centrifuges, and donate 80% of those proceeds to the parishes, struggling to cope with fouled marshlands and devastated fisheries. Savvy business dealing all around. Get that puppy field tested for official government approval, goodwill in the market, and a machine for every tanker and rig as on site clean up emergency plans.

…… that is unless the EPA comes along and decides to shut down their operation for water discharge that exceeds EPA regs.

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