The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism announced today that InsideClimate News reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer were awarded an honorable mention for "The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of" in the 2012 John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.
Chicago Tribune reporters Patricia Callahan, Michael Hawthorne and Sam Roe won the top award for their year-long investigative series "Playing with Fire."
The Scripps Howard Awards for the best journalism of 2012 today also recognized The Dilbit Disaster as a finalist in the environmental reporting category.
Another Oakes honorable mention went to the Environmental Health News reporting team for their multi-part series "Pollution, Poverty, People of Color." USA Today got the other honorable mention for "Ghost Factories," an multi-media investigative series on lead contamination in soil across the country.
InsideClimate's The Dilbit Disaster explores the million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, which triggered the most expensive cleanup in U.S. history— more than $800 million. Almost three years later, the cleanup still isn't finished.
Why not? Because the underground pipeline that ruptured was carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, the dirtiest, stickiest oil used today. It's the same kind of oil that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline could someday carry across the nation's largest drinking water aquifer.
Written as a narrative, this page-turner takes an inside look at what happened to two families, a community, unprepared agencies and an inept company during an environmental disaster involving a new kind of oil few people know much about.
The Dilbit Disaster is available as ebook, readable on any device, desktop, laptop or in a browser, for only 99 cents.
The John B. Oakes Award honors the career of the late John B. Oakes, a pioneer of environmental journalism, who worked for The New York Times as a columnist, editorial writer, editor of the editorial page, and creator of the op-ed page. It was created in 1994 at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environment and conservation advocacy organization, of which John Oakes was a founding trustee. The prize moved to Columbia in 2005. The Oakes judges represent a cross section of distinguished journalists and environmental specialists.