The Society of Environmental Journalists announced today that ProPublica won its Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting (Large Market) for “Bombs in Our Backyard.”
The series, by senior reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, revealed for the first time how the Pentagon’s development and testing of weapons has polluted millions of acres of land and drinking water resources across 40,000 U.S. sites — and how the Pentagon has systematically ignored or downplayed its cleanup responsibilities. The project exposed the open burning of old munitions, the use of contractors to dump hazardous waste into residential neighborhoods, and a decades-long effort to downplay the cancer risks of a common explosive called RDX.
In the course of his reporting, Lustgarten acquired data from the Department of Defense identifying the location and status of all 40,000 polluted sites. News applications developer Lena Groeger; deputy editor, data, Ryann Grochowski Jones; and deputy editor, news applications, Sisi Wei used the material to build “Bombs In Your Backyard,” an interactive news app that lets readers locate and understand the environmental threats lurking in their own neighborhoods.
Lucas Waldron, Ranjani Chakraborty and Ashley Gilbertson also contributed to the project.
“What made Lustgarten’s series so shocking was the fact that [the military’s] actions were not entirely covered up — it just took the kind of diligence and shoe-leather reporting of a committed journalist to pull together the disparate pieces of a story scattered across the country,” said contest judges.”
See a list of all the Society of Environmental Journalists’ award winners here.