A NEWCASTLE Herald investigation into lead pollution in Boolaroo has won the United Nations Association of Australia world environment day award for best reporting.
Journalists Donna Page, Matthew Kelly, Damon Cronshaw and Helen Gregory uncovered major flaws in a state government-sanctioned lead abatement strategy following the closure of the Pasminco smelter.
The investigation was a joint project with Professor Mark Taylor and Macquarie University.
The judges said the Herald’s ‘‘Toxic Truth’’ was an outstanding example of investigative journalism on a major environmental problem.
In response to the investigation, the NSW government is reviewing the effectiveness of the lead abatement strategy.
The Herald beat entries from the ABC’s Four Corners and 7.30 programs and Network Ten’s Totally Wild.
The Herald team acknowledged the work of Professor Taylor and Macquarie University in accepting the national award, which they dedicated to the residents of North Lake Macquarie. ‘‘We are going to keep fighting until your homes, backyards, playgrounds, parks and sporting fields are safe for your children to play in,’’ Page said.
Kelly was also a finalist for reporting on the health impacts of dust from uncovered coal wagons.
Herald editor Chad Watson said the United Nations recognition had reinforced why it was vital to not only highlight environmental concerns but to act when community health was under threat.
“This has been a tremendous team effort but it doesn’t stop here,’’ he said. ‘‘The Herald will maintain the pressure to ensure a proper clean-up is carried out.’’