NMG’s Duara wins Best of States for environmental scoop

Nigel Duara

Nigel Duara

Talk about going above and beyond! Guild member Nigel Duara of the Portland bureau won this week’s Best of the States award for handling a scoop he’d lined up _ even though the key tip came right before his Aug. 2 wedding ceremony began.

Duara received a text message — “Settlement Monday” — indicating he could run an exclusive story then that he’d been pursuing for a while: The Army Corps of Engineers and an environmental group were about to settle a lawsuit over oil spills at eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

The deal called for a first involving those dams. The Army Corps would be required to disclose the level of pollutants its dams send into the rivers and to apply for Environmental Protection Agency pollution permits. It could have ramifications for hundreds of dams operated by the Corps, which for decades has rejected EPA orders to stop dumping toxic lubricants into waterways.

Duara learned the terms of the deal in advance, prepped a story for when the settlement was reached, then waited as it was delayed from July 28 and his wedding day arrived on Saturday, Aug. 2.

After getting the tip from the environmental group, Columbia Riverkeeper, 20 minutes before his wedding, Duara go married but gave up a scheduled day off that Monday. He made sure the settlement had been filed in court, confirmed the terms matched his prewritten story, and it was moved as an APNewsBreak. His source-building and preparation brought him a scoop on the competition and wide used in newspapers across the Pacific Northwest.