The Single Mom Who Shut Down a Toxic Plant Readies for Round Two: Making Them Pay

Jacob Kushner / TakePart

Phyllis Omido receives the Goldman Environmental Prize Monday, but the battle for justice is only beginning.

In the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, a rogue lead-smelting factory has left a path of destruction in its wake: at least three dead workers, hundreds of failed pregnancies and stillborns, and more than two dozen children suffering lifelong health effects from breathing in polluted air and stepping in toxic runoff.

The damage might have continued were it not for one Kenyan woman who fought to close down the plant and save an entire community—even amid death threats and an attempted kidnapping.

Today, 36-year-old Phyllis Omido is being honored with the Goldman Environmental Prize, given each year to six exceptional individuals—one from each continent—who undertake “sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.”

The prize is the beginning of yet another journey for Omido: She plans to use the $175,000 award to sue the government agencies that knew about the problems at the smelting plant but did nothing.

“As long as there is no justice, we will keep pushing,” she says.

Read Omido’s story at TakePart.