Voice of OC journalists won Orange County Press Club awards Monday for an investigation into the cause of the San Onofre nuclear plant shutdown and for a project on housing insecurity in the county.
Staff writer Nick Gerda won second place in the investigative category for his work on the San Onofre nuclear plant, which was permanently closed in June amid ongoing controversy surrounding a radiation leak in 2012.
Gerda was the first local journalist to report extensively on evidence that the plant’s operator, Southern California Edison, mislead federal regulators regarding design changes to the steam generators that leaked. Specifically, he pointed to a key presentation that was missing from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s records on the plant.
Days after the article ran, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer demanded all of the records surrounding the faulty generators’ approval.
Ultimately, a report by Mitsubishi, which manufactured the generators, showed that Southern California Edison knew about design flaws involving the generators before they were installed.
First place in the investigative category went to The Orange County Register for its investigation into a bounty scandal involving a Tustin Pop Warner football league.
Contributing writer Amy DePaul and Youth Media fellow Marilynn Montano won third place in the public service-educational series category for their series on housing insecurity in Orange County.
The series was an in-depth examination of how the high cost of housing and crowded living conditions take a huge toll on the health and safety of low-income families in the county.
Montano wrote a first-person account of her family’s struggle with housing insecurity.
“We are incredibly proud of the hard work of our staff,” said Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr. “These stories represent the very best of what we do, shining the light on complicated and difficult issues.”
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