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Cal State Fullerton alumnus Kevin Costner discusses the use of a centrifuge created by his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions. The system is being used in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of Ocean Therapy Solutions

Build It and They Will Come

Alum Kevin Costner's Solution to Gulf Coast Oil Disaster

August 10, 2010

By Paula Selleck

Cal State Fullerton grad Kevin Costner may have rocketed to fame as a movie star and snagged an Academy Award for directing the 1990 blockbuster “Dances With Wolves,” yet his background as a business major (Class of ’78) may be figuring more prominently into the latest chapter of his life.

Lately, he’s been cast by the media in the role of movie hero, riding to the rescue of the Gulf Coast in the wake of April’s oil rig explosion. Moved by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster and inspired by the oil extraction device depicted in his film “Waterworld,” Costner spent millions bankrolling the development of such machines. He co-founded a company to bring them to market and signed a contract with BP in June.

Later this month, BP is scheduled to deploy 32 of Costner’s “dream machines” in the Gulf of Mexico as attention turns from permanently plugging the offshore drilling rig back to cleaning up the ocean area affected by the leak — five times greater than the Exxon Valdez spill.

From Business Magazine to the New York Times and television networks, Costner’s latest role as environmentalist/entrepreneur is being chronicled, including his sessions with President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and members of Congress. A video clip of Costner testifying in June at a hearing on Capitol Hill is featured in this CBS report.

Other related links:

• This New York Times story includes a video clip of Costner talking about the technology during a spring demo in New Orleans.

Business Management describes how for Costner and his partners, “the disaster has very much been an event they wished they would never have to respond to.”

It all started with the Exxon Valdez oil spill that fouled Alaska’s Prince William Sound when the tanker’s hull ruptured in the spring of 1989. That disaster inspired another CSUF grad, David K. Morgan (M.A. ’91 and M.F.A. ’94), to create a sculpture to serve as a reminder of the perils of humans and wildlife in conflict. Morgan's award-winning terracotta sculpture, created during his student days, is on display in the Titan Student Union.

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