Tri-City Herald reporter Annette Cary is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Dolly Connelly Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism.
The award honors her coverage of the May discovery of a collapse in a waste tunnel at the Hanford PUREX facility.
Judges praised her for her ability to convey a complicated topic to a non-technical audience.
Cary reported that workers conducting routine monitoring in central Hanford had detected the collapse in a tunnel containing eight rail cars filled with highly radioactive material and equipment. The discovery prompted an order for several thousand Hanford workers to take cover and drew national attention.
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“The reader learns about everything from radiation ‘shine’ to the role of the PUREX plant in the context of the Cold War,” wrote judge Peter Jackson, former editorial page editor of the Herald in Everett. “The history and details of the tunnels — the creosoted timbers and concrete, which were forecast to deteriorate and collapse — unfurl in prose digestible to non-Hanford wonks, the work of a seasoned writer steeped in the politics and culture of Hanford.”
Michael Wright of the Bozeman Chronicle received second place honors for his reporting on the centennial of the National Park Service.
The awards will be presented during the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association’s 2017 Press Summit in Seattle in October.
The Dolly Connelly Award was endowed by Joel Connelly, columnist and blogger for the SeattlePI.com, and the late P-I publisher J.D. Alexander. It honors Connelly’s mother, a longtime Time-Life correspondent and freelance writer whose work frequently appeared in Seattle newspapers and Sunset magazine.
Cary joined the Herald in 1995 and is a senior reporter covering Hanford, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, energy and the environment.