Global News wins international award for investigation into Ontario’s ‘Chemical Valley’

A flare seen from one of the plants in Sarnia. Trevor Owens / Global News

Global News won the Silver World Medal from the prestigious New York Festival TV & Film Awards on Tuesday evening.

The medal for Best Investigative Report was awarded to Global News for the half-hour documentary Canada’s Toxic Secret which exposed a troubling trend of industrial leaks and spills in Sarnia, Ontario’s “Chemical Valley.”

People living in the adjacent First Nation of Aamjiwnaang feared the industrial emissions were making them sick – and expressed concern that no one was looking after their health.

WATCH: Ontario enviro watchdog, First Nation demand health study after ‘Chemical Valley’ investigation

Click to play video: 'Ontario enviro watchdog, First Nation demand health study after ‘Chemical Valley’ investigation'
Ontario enviro watchdog, First Nation demand health study after ‘Chemical Valley’ investigation

Forty-eight hours after the documentary aired, the Ontario government announced it would fund a long-demanded health study to assess the risks of industrial pollution and spills. Two weeks after that, regulations for sulphur dioxide — which hadn’t been updated in 43 years — were introduced.

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Shortly afterwards, the Ontario government announced that after an eight-year delay, it would finally regulate the cumulative effects of air pollution in Chemical Valley.

“Investigative journalism is an essential voice for people who might be falling through the cracks,” said Ron Waksman, vice-president of news content for Global News and Corus Radio. “The integrity of our public and democratic institutions can only be strengthened by investigations such as Toxic Secret, which demand accountability from public officials and greater protections for Canadians. These involved investigations take time, deep research and the dedication of professional journalists motivated to get it right and get at the truth.”

The investigative work behind Canada’s Toxic Secret took two-and-half years to complete – and was part of the largest collaboration of Canadian journalists to date, called The Price of Oil.

The Price of Oil conducted investigations in both Saskatchewan and Sarnia in collaboration with the Toronto Star, National Observer, Michener Fellow Patti Sonntag, and schools of journalism at Ryerson, Concordia, Regina and UBC.

The reporting from The Price of Oil continues today.

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