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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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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 15 December
PRESENTER
TOM HEAP
Tom Heap
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Thursday 15 December 2005
Cleaning up St. Bernard's Parish
Mason and Susan Green try to clean up their oil-damaged home.

Oil and Katrina

There's a thick black line at just above head height running around the wall of what's left of Mason and Susan Green's kitchen.  When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the flood waters breached an oil storage tank at a refinery next to the Green's home.  85,000 barrels of oil floating on top of millions of gallons of water blasted through the neighbourhood.

In this week's 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the effect that the oil industry has had on New Orleans and the fragile environment of Louisiana.

The local economy is utterly dependent upon the oil that passes through the State- from the on-shore fields of Louisiana, from the 4000 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and from the foreign oil and gas which enters the USA through Louisiana's ports.  But a heavy environmental price has been paid.  The industry has cut through the wetlands that once protected the shore from storms whilst oil extraction has caused subsidence which may have lowered the coastline.

The increasingly strong, increasingly frequent hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast can now cause more damage than ever before- damage to people, property, wildlife and the oil industry itself.
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