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Inside Climate News Wins Pulitzer

16 Apr 2013

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Inside Climate News won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of“, an epic journalism project about a massive oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer’s longform journalism starts as a gripping narrative of the forgotten 2010 spill, but quickly makes connections with contemporary debates around the Keystone XL pipeline and coverage of Exxon’s oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas on March 29.

From “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of, Part 1“:

“Despite the scope of the damage, the Enbridge spill hasn’t attracted much national attention, perhaps because it occurred just 10 days after oil stopped spewing from BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, which had ruptured three months earlier. Early reports about the Enbridge spill also downplayed its seriousness. Just about everybody, including the EPA officials who rushed to Marshall, expected the mess to be cleaned up in a couple of months.

What the EPA didn’t know then, however, was that 6B was carrying bitumen, the dirtiest, stickiest oil on the market.

Bitumen is so thick—about the consistency of peanut butter—that it doesn’t flow from a well like the crude oil found in most of the nation’s pipelines. Instead the tarry resin is either steamed or strip-mined from sandy soil. Then it is thinned with large quantities of liquid chemicals so it can be pumped through pipelines. These diluents usually include benzene, a known human carcinogen. At this point it becomes diluted bitumen, or dilbit.”

Keep reading “The Dilbit Disaster” on Inside Climate News, or download the whole thing as an ebook from Amazon.

Read more coverage of ICN’s Pulitzer win at the Wall Street Journal.

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