The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences this week recognized as a Webby Award winner ProPublica’s investigation into the millions of tons of uranium waste that mining companies and regulators have allowed to continue polluting rural areas.
“A Uranium Ghost Town in the Making,” with contributions from Mark Olalde, Maya Miller, Mauricio Rodríguez Pons, Almudena Toral, Lucas Waldron and photojournalist Ed Ou, won the People’s Voice Award in the Best Individual Editorial Feature - Media Company category. The investigation, co-published with the Los Angeles Times, pulled back the curtain on overlooked failures in a system meant to protect Western communities and waterways.
Four decades after the collapse of America’s uranium industry, much of its remaining infrastructure, including about half of the nation’s 50-plus shuttered uranium mills, waits to be cleaned up. When ProPublica learned that the federal agencies tasked with regulating this system had never fully audited its successes and failures in cleaning up the uranium mills, reporters decided to do it themselves. In a first-of-its-kind analysis, ProPublica identified more than 250 million tons of uranium mill waste, largely in the West and much of it improperly or incompletely cleaned up.
The project was the result of a reporting collaboration that analyzed thousands of pages of government and corporate documents, and it involved crowdsourcing in the community, interviewing dozens of people and conducting radon testing in homes near the site. The presentation included compelling video, graphics and an explainer on how to protect yourself from radon gas.
See a list of all Webby Awards winners.