Seven honored worldwide for environmental works

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A retired Russian naval captain, accused of treason for exposing potential radioactive contamination, was among seven winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize awarded on Monday.
Other winners included a West Virginia homemaker who fought a toxic waste incinerator, and a tribal chief and an American biologist who worked together to stop logging in a Samoan rain forest.
“The winners demonstrate that one person can indeed make a difference even against the most incredible odds,” said Duane Silverstein, head of the group that oversees the awards.
Alexander Nikitin described the hazards of Russian nuclear submarines in a report published last year by the Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian environmental organization.
Nikitin wrote about 52 abandoned nuclear submarines in a remote shipyard on the Kola Peninsula, near the northwest border of Russia and Norway. The Cold War-era submarines have spent nuclear fuel that is susceptible to leakage, overheating and explosion.
Soon after the report was published, Nikitin was arrested and charged with high treason for revealing state secrets.
Imprisoned for 10 months, he was released last December and now awaits trial.
Nikitin, 44, called the prize “a high honor for my work and Bellona’s work,” and said he has continued his efforts since his release from jail. “These problems of environmental safety will be solved only with international cooperation and support.”
The U.S. winner, Terri Swearingen, lobbied unsuccessfully to stop construction of the nation’s largest toxic waste incinerator, located near an elementary school in East Liverpool, Ohio, near her Chester, W.Va., home.
“It came at an unbelievable time for us because it’s now considered one of the longest environmental battles in the country,” said Swearingen, a nurse and homemaker. “It validates everything that we have done in the past. It validates the problem. It validates our effort.”
Also among the winners was American professor Paul Alan Cox and Samoan Fuiono Senio, who worked together to stop logging in a lowland rain forest in Western Samoa. They also established a preserve and built a new school for the village.
The other winners were:
ù Loir Botor Dingit, the chief of the Benetian Tribal Council, which represents a community of rattan farmers in Indonesia. He was honored for convincing government ministers to support the rights of forest dwellers.
ù Juan Pablo Orrego, the director of a Chilean group that foiled plans to expedite construction of a dam on the Bio Bio, one of the world’s last major free-flowing rivers. Orrego has said the dam would result in environmental and cultural devastation to the river.
ù Nick Carter, a British man living in Zambia who created the world’s first multinational enforcement body to stop illegal wildlife trade.