Nearly a fifth of Illinois 9/11 loans deemed uncollectible

An analysis by the Chicago Tribune shows that nearly a fifth of the “economic injury disaster loans” made to Illinois small businesses in the wake of the 9/11 attacks have been deemed uncollectible by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The charge-off rate for the banking industry is well under 1 percent of loans. About half…

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Houston chemical facilities are putting citizens at risk

A yearlong Houston Chronicle investigation found that hundreds of chemicals threaten public safety across the country and in greater Houston, the capital of the nation’s petrochemical industry. Often these dangerous chemicals are stored at largely unregulated facilities that many residential neighbors don’t even know exist. In November 2014, four people died after a gas leak…

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North Carolina has the second-highest number of high-hazard dams nationwide

North Carolina has about 1,200 high-hazard dams, according to an analysis by WRAL. A dam is considered “high-hazard” if loss of life is likely if the structure fails. North Carolina has almost six times the number of high-hazard dams than South Carolina, which has seen several dam failures due to historic rain and flooding. Of…

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After an officer’s death, families wait — and wait — for government benefits

After a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, their family mourns them, their communities memorialize them — and federal death benefits are supposed to reach their family within 90 days.  For hundreds of families, that 90-day wait can stretch into months and sometimes years, according to a nationwide investigation by the…

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Formaldehyde-soaked FEMA trailers still home for some, whether they know it or not

After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA rush-ordered more than 100,000 trailers and mobile homes. But those trailers, Grist reports, continue to cause an emergency of their own. As FEMA deployed the new, hastily constructed trailers along the gulf coast, people first noticed the trailers’ smell. Then they noticed they were getting more headaches and nose-bleeds. Respiratory diseases,…

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Collapsed California bridge given an A rating just last year

The Desert Sun used Federal Highway Administration data to show that a remote desert bridge that collapsed over the weekend was given an A rating just last year. Heavy rain led to the collapse of the Tex Wash Bridge and severed Interstate 10, causing problems for thousands of drivers. “Inspectors gave the eastbound portion of…

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Extra Extra Monday: Jailers without jails, deadly debris, and state medical examiners

Share your work with Extra Extra: Email your story suggestions to [email protected] Please include a working URL for the story. You may also include an optional synopsis of 100 words or less. Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting Jeanette Miller Hughes is the personification of a wasteful, nepotism-laced but…

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Regulators lack resources to confront risks posed by exploding oil trains

Almost a year and a half after an oil train explosion devastated a Quebec town —and after three railcar explosions in the United States — those headline-grabbing measures have turned out to be less than they appeared. Idling oil trains are still left unattended in highly populated areas. The effort to draft new safety regulations…

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Six years after Hurricane Ike, Texas coast remains vulnerable

Hurricane Ike sent a clear message that the people and vital energy industry of greater Houston, one of America’s largest urban areas needed protection from rising seas. Six years later, it remains an easy target as storm surges grow increasingly more destructive. Many major coastal cities are in the same boat. A Reuters analysis of…

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