Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Inspectors" ...

  • Bay Area News Group: Burned Out

    An exclusive data analysis that revealed how fire inspectors across the San Francisco Bay Area routinely fail to perform state-required safety inspections at schools and apartment buildings -- and how, despite the potential for tragedy, there are no consequences — and nobody paying attention — to make sure they are getting the job done.
  • A Game of Chicken

    Over the course of a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had not one, not two, not three, but four opportunities to warn the public about salmonella outbreaks involving Foster Farms chicken. Each time, they hemmed and hawed, worrying more about the threat of legal action from a corporate giant than about protecting consumers. Health reporter Lynne Terry was the first journalist in America to identify and write about this alarming trend. With reporters from Frontline, The Center for Investigative Reporting and the New York Times circling around the story, she beat them all with a stunning and illuminating examination of the failures of the USDA. In her year-long investigation, Terry set out to determine if the USDA’s notoriously slow handling of a major salmonella outbreak in 2013-2014 was an isolated case. It wasn’t. She reviewed thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents dating back to 2003. What she found was disturbing: More than 1,000 people had rushed to their doctors with bouts of food poisoning. They had no idea what made them sick. But federal regulators did. Those same federal officials took virtually no steps to protect consumers from bad chicken. Health officials in Oregon and Washington had pushed vigorously for federal action, having identified clear and convincing evidence of problems. But the USDA wouldn’t budge. Terry’s meticulous reporting identified these themes: •USDA officials are afraid of lawsuits. The agency is so worried about being sued by companies that they’ve set an almost impossible bar for evidence, even rejecting samples of tainted chicken that state health agencies believed would help clinch their case. •Government inspectors are pressured to go easy on food processors. In one notable case, the USDA transferred an inspector after Foster Farms complained he wrote too many citations. •The USDA succumbed to further pressure from Foster Farms. After strong pushback from the company’s lawyers, the agency backed away from citing an unequivocal connection linking the company to a 2004 outbreak – even though the evidence pointed only to Foster Farms.
  • BOOM - North America's Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem

    Emergency orders, safety alerts and sweeping regulatory proposals gave the public the sense that Washington responded appropriately after a train filled with North Dakota oil killed 47 and destroyed the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic in July 2013—but the report shows that 18 months later little has changed and the regulatory process has failed. The story documents the extent to which the regulation of train cars is left almost entirely to the industry. And it matters now because of the massive increase in explosive cargo from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That fuel is rich in volatile natural gas liquids. If a railcar ruptures—and if some of the gas comes into contact with the outside air and a spark occurs—the railcar will explode and act as a blow torch on the car next to it. With each car carrying roughly 30,000 gallons of oil, a single, 100-car train can haul as much as 3 million gallons of oil. Among the key findings about the lack of federal regulation: not enough government inspectors; little oversight of railroad bridges; state and local governments can’t independently assess the condition of local rail infrastructure; and meager penalties.
  • Cell of squalor, weeks of despair

    A Harris County jail inmate, jailed on a marijuana charge while on probation and in need of mental health care, was left in his cell for weeks without being let out, living amid heaps of trash, swarms of bugs, and piles of his own feces. When inspectors with a jail compliance team entered the cell of inmate Terry Goodwin on October 10, 2013, he was wearing a filthy, shredded jail uniform in the fetid cell. Shards of his orange uniform were hanging from the ceiling light. His sink, toilet and shower drain were clogged, not just with feces, but with toilet paper in an apparent attempt by Goodwin to cover his own waste and with orange rinds, perhaps in futile effort to mask the smell. That’s when the cover-up began.
  • Oversight of Indiana Tiger Exhibit Big on Growl, Light on Teeth

    KyCIR’s radio/online/print investigation found that a Louisville-area nonprofit that houses wild animals has a troubled record; that state and federal officials have done little to address complaints; and the handling of lions and other exotic animals is potentially putting the public's safety at risk. The facility, Wildlife in Need, has a history of repeat violations of the Animal Welfare Act and for two years, federal inspectors cited the owner for not having cages tall enough to prevent tigers and lions from escaping. They found that despite these citations federal inspectors did not remove the animals, fine the owner or force him into compliance. Because of an obscure provision in Indiana law, state officials have no power to investigate or inspect the facility -- even after a neighbor shot and killed a 48-pound leopard that many believe was housed at the facility.
  • How the USDA’s new ‘chicken rule’ could change what you eat, and how it’s inspected

    This special investigative report from KCPT's Hale Center for Journalism explored the possible impact of a new federal regulation known as the “chicken rule” - that could be one of the most far reaching changes in U.S. meat inspection history. Weeks before it went into effect, reporter Mike McGraw investigated how the chicken rule will allow poultry plant employees — instead of USDA inspectors — to help determine whether chicken is contaminated or safe to eat. McGraw also investigated the impact of the severe shortage of federal inspectors in slaughterhouses - critics and some inspectors claimed some meat in supermarkets stamped as “USDA inspected” may never have been inspected at all.
  • FRACTURE CRITICAL: COLORADO’S DETERIORATING RAILROADS

    FOX31 Denver reviewed safety inspections for more than 150 railroad bridges in Colorado and found about one-quarter flunked their latest safety inspection or were deteriorating toward what inspectors call “structurally deficient.” The investigation uncovered one failed rail road bridge which had been struck at least 38 times by heavy trucks and semis - without a single repair.
  • Escalator rules fall short — even after two severe accidents

    Within a five-month period in Washington state there were two major escalator accidents. In one, a escalator collapsed and injured seven mallgoers, while in the other a man was strangled in an escalator in Seattle. A News Tribune investigation found that even after the state implemented new escalator maintenance protocols, one-quarter of Washington’s escalators still had known safety problems that had never been corrected. The state was also falling down on its duties to inspect escalators. While the state is supposed to complete safety inspections of escalators annually, inspectors visited fewer than 1/3 of escalators in 2013. The newspaper also discovered that more than 40 percent of state-inspected escalators may lack a safety feature that could have saved the life of the man who was strangled by the Seattle escalator.
  • Pump Problems

    WAFF 48 investigated the process of inspecting gas pumps in North Alabama and discovered the state employed just six inspectors to check 90,000 pumps. Uninspected pumps can cost drivers money by overcharging them or by dispensing bad gas. During the most recent series of inspections in North Alabama 143 out of 844 pumps failed inspection. The state would not supply us with a list of pumps that failed. Instead, we had to submit a list of gas stations and inspectors would then supply the results. Out of the twenty stations submitted to the state, nine pumps were condemned. During the investigation it was learned that state budget cuts lead to the lack of inspectors. We also learned inspectors rely on public complaints to determine where to inspect.
  • Who’s the Grossest Grocer in New York?

    In our “Grossest Grocer” series, Patch journalists uncovered dozens of grocery stores that could sicken the communities we serve, and made a vast database of state records available to the wider public for the first time. To find New York supermarkets with a history of food safety problems and tell their stories, we exclusively obtained a state database of inspection records through a Freedom of Information Law request and protracted negotiation with the state. Our editors spent months analyzing millions of violations observed by state inspectors, conferring with experts, and verifying our finds with on-the-ground reporting. We published more than 70 articles in this series, and an interactive map with detailed data on all of New York’s retail food stores -- more than 33,000 businesses, from corner bodegas to major grocery chains.