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Teen Activist Wins Environmental Prize

April 20, 1998|CONNIE KOENENN

Nineteen-year-old Kory Johnson, who was 9 when she founded the activist group Children for a Safe Environment, is the North American winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's largest award for grass-roots environmentalists.

Johnson, a resident of Phoenix, and five other global winners will each receive a "no strings attached" award of $100,000 at a ceremony today at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco.

Johnson formed CSE after her older sister died from heart problems believed to be caused by contaminated well water that her mother drank while pregnant. After successfully battling plans to locate a hazardous waste incinerator in a low-income community, the group, now 359 members strong, has continued to take on environmental justice issues.

Other Goldman winners:

* South America: Berita KuwarU'wa, 44, of Colombia, who has led a tribal campaign opposing multinational oil drilling in their remote homeland.

* Europe: Anna Giordano, 33, of Messina, Italy, an ornithologist who successfully campaigned to save migrating buzzards, storks and other birds from mass slaughter by poachers.

* Asia: Hirofumi Yamashita, 64, of Japan, who led a 25-year fight against a land reclamation project in the Isahaya Bay's rich wetlands.

* Africa: Sven "Bobby" Peek, 31, of South Africa, who united racially divided communities in South Durban to battle refinery pollution and toxic dump sites in residential neighborhoods.

* Island Nations: Atherton Martin, 52, an agronomist who helped stop a proposed copper mine that would have devastated 10% of Dominica.

"Their work demonstrates that fundamental rights to a healthy environment cannot be denied," said Richard N. Goldman, president of the Goldman Foundation, who, with his late wife Rhoda H. Goldman, established the award in 1989.

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