Congratulations to CIR correspondents Marina Walker Guevara and Sara Shipley Hiles for receiving the In-Depth Reporting Award from the InterAmerican Press Association. Their story exposing the abysmal health conditions in towns surrounding lead smelters in Peru and the United States, “Lead Astray: What Happens When an American Company Offshores Pollution?,” appeared in the November-December 2006 issue of Mother Jones.
The two journalists traveled to La Oroya, deep in the Andes, to report on astronomical rates of childhood lead poisonings, and to Herculaneum, Missouri where the development of behavioral problems and neurological disorders among children prompted the EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources to pressure the company to clean up its operations. Rather than clean up, the U.S.-based Doe Run company shifted the bulk of its lead smelting to Peru. CIR provided funding and assistance to Walker Guevara, an Argentine journalist who covered La Oroya for the Spanish-language press, and Shipley Hiles, who covered the situation in Herculaneum, Missouri, as environment correspondent for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Judges of the IAPA, representing leading media in the U.S. and Latin America, announced: “The story combines in-depth reporting, journalistic rigor and a novel approach to describe the environmental problems caused by a U.S.-based lead company running simultaneous operations in the state of Missouri and in La Oroya, Peru.” Today, Sara Shipley Hiles works as a freelance writer in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Marina Walker Guevara is a reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, DC.
Photo by Marina Walker Guevara