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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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PROGRAMME INFO
Thursday 21:00-21:30
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 2 December
PRESENTER
ALEX KIRBY
Alex Kirby
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 2 December 2004
Toxic ship wreck off the coast of the UK
Toxic ship wrecks blight the coast of the UK

Toxic Wrecks

The USS Richard Montgomery foundered in the Thames Estuary in 1944.  The crew was saved but the cargo- thousands of tonnes of high explosives destined for France- was too dangerous to move.  The ship still sits there today within sight of the town of Sheerness, rusting into the sea, its cargo gradually becoming less stable.  It could take just one chemical reaction to cause the biggest explosion ever seen in Britain.

The shores of Britain are littered with shipwrecks.  From the Spanish Armada to the Cold War our rocks and reefs have lured hapless mariners to their doom.

In 'Costing the Earth' Alex Kirby investigates the effect these wrecks and their cargoes have on life, limb and the environment.

On Scapa Flow in Orkney he watches as divers attempt to extract fuel from the Royal Oak, a battleship which has been killing local birdlife since it was torpedoed in 1939.  In County Antrim he joins a local beachcomber who finds bombs and ammunition boxes every week on his local strand.  And at Woolwich Docks he meets John Large, an expert on nuclear submarines who can pinpoint the Soviet wrecks- and the UK subs- leaching radiation into British waters.


Next week Miriam O'Reilly asks where the million new households in the South-East of England will get their drinking water from.
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