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 "crude" ...

  • Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

    The book revisits the murder conviction of Jo Ann Parks, sentenced to life in prison without parole for allegedly murdering her three young children in 1989by setting fire to her home and trapping them inside. In re-investigating the case, the author found flawed forensic science, false and contradictory testimony, and strong evidence of cognitive bias throughout the case, including use of an unreliable informant who later recanted, and sworn expert testimony that the fire began because Parks supposedly constructed a crude “incendiary device” by deliberately overloading a sabotaged electrical extension cord. Testing later proved the cord did not and could not start a fire. Information in the book has since been added to Parks’ existing habeas corpus petition filed by the California Innocence Project, now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Additional findings suggests the problems with flawed forensic science and cognitive bias in general, and in arson investigation in particular, is widespread and has led to other wrongful convictions. Correcting the use of flawed forensic and expert testimony is hindered by the legal system’s reliance on precedent, which slows and sometimes prevents the correction of scientifically dubious ideas used to win convictions. Nascent attempts to study and change this tendency to prolong the use of flawed forensic science initiated by the Obama Administration have been shut down by the Trump Administration.
  • Trains Plus Crude Oil Equals Trouble Down the Track

    The project represents a yearlong examination of the response to safety problems associated with a massive and sudden increase in crude oil transported by rail. It found that government and industry had failed to identify and correct safety gaps in the rail system, including the inspection and maintenance of track and bridges and the design of the tank cars carrying the oil. It also showed that government efforts to better inform local emergency response personnel still left them in the dark on some types of crude oil moved by rail and on smaller shipments. Additionally, the project detailed efforts by railroads and some states to keep even limited information about crude oil trains out of public view.
  • Crude oil in Pittsburgh

    North America is now one of the biggest producers of crude oil in the world, partly because of fracking in North Dakota and other Western states. With a lack of pipelines in place to move the oil, much of it has been pushed onto the rails. Much of that oil is moved in tank cars found to spill their loads when accidents occur. With the increased traffic, accidents have piled up across North America. Refineries processing much of the crude from the Bakken formation in the West are in the Philadelphia area. In May, the federal government told the railroads to give that information to states where they shipped large quantities of crude. Many states made the information public, but Pennsylvania was one of the states that opted out, citing that the information was “confidential” and “proprietary” to railroads. The state emergency response agency denied our public records requests (as well as other news agencies requests) for the information. PublicSource wanted to show people where trains were traveling in Pittsburgh and the potential affected population living around those lines.
  • Workers Question Safety Culture Within Railroads Hauling Crude Oil

    KUOW's investigation into worker complaints about BNSF Railway's documents how the company has prioritized speed and profits over safety, with a history of retaliating against workers who report accidents, injuries and safety concerns. Railroad safety has come under public scrutiny now that trains are hauling millions of gallons of oil across North America. In the Northwest, BNSF carries the vast majority of the especially combustible Bakken crude from North Dakota and neighboring states. The railroad now moves nearly 20 oil trains per week through the Columbia River Gorge. The story of Curtis Rookaird, which our investigation and resulting documents confirm, illustrate how a BNSF Railway worker's insistence that government safety standards are followed -- even at the expense of speeding freight to its destination, led to his dismissal.
  • Oil Train Safety Put At Risk

    Oregon Public Broadcasting's investigation into worker complaints about BNSF Railway's documents how the company has prioritized speed and profits over safety, with a history of retaliating against workers who report accidents, injuries and safety concerns. Railroad safety has come under public scrutiny now that trains are hauling millions of gallons of oil across North America. In the Northwest, BNSF carries the vast majority of the especially combustible Bakken crude from North Dakota and neighboring states. The railroad now moves nearly 20 oil trains per week through the Columbia River Gorge. Worker fatigue is a major contributor to these dangers on the rails. As they uncovered, irregular work schedules and sleep disorders are a well-known contributor to train derailments, and yet, the industry has failed to make the adjustments that have been identified as ways to reduce the risk of crashes and derailments.
  • Danger on the Rails

    “Why are the trains exploding?” That’s the question The Wall Street Journal set out to answer as a series of trains full of North Dakota oil erupted into fireballs and created fear in cities far from U.S. wellheads. The Journal’s groundbreaking investigation identified the source of the problem and guided federal and state regulators to solutions. Though crude oil is a hazardous substance that makes a mess when it leaks, it does not usually ignite into towers of flame. The energy industry denied that oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale was unusual in any way. The Journal team nonetheless located and analyzed data showing that Bakken crude was far more combustible than conventional oil.
  • Crude Awakening: 37 years of Alberta oil spills

    A multimedia series - including time-lapse animation, interactive infographics, photos, video and text - telling the story of oil spills in Alberta. The series, spawned by a months-long FOI quest, explores the nitty-gritty of the spills and data themselves but also analyzes the degree and quality of government oversight of a rapidly growing industry that is coming under unprecedented scrutiny. The stories told are both macro and micro - personal anecdotes and broader policy and oversight implications.
  • “Light, Sweet, Crude: a former US ambassador peddles influence in Afghanistan

    In 2010, Zalmay Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan in the George W. Bush administration, tried unsuccessfully to win an oil contract in Afghanistan by wielding his political influence gained through the US-led invasion and occupation on behalf an oil company, Tethys Petroleum, with which he had professional ties and financial stakes. My investigation unearthed damning documentation of his influence peddling not previously made public nor reported upon. It also revealed a source who alleged only to me that Khalilzad paid for inside information, which, if true, could amount to an illegal bribe under Afghanistan’s Hydrocarbons Law and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • The Dilbit Disaster

    The 10 stories we’ve submitted expose serious flaws in federal and state regulations that are supposed to ensure the safety of the nation’s oil pipelines. These flaws are of particular concern right now, because the regulations are setting the standards for thousands of miles of new pipelines that are being built or repurposed to carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region. U.S. imports of this type of oil, which is turned into a fuel known as dilbit, are expected to quadruple in the coming decade. The core of our reporting is a three-part narrative about a 2010 pipeline accident in Michigan, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of,” which also appeared as an e-book. In the other stories that appeared during our 15-month investigation, we applied what we learned from that disaster to the proposed pipeline projects, including the Keystone XL and the replacement of the Michigan pipeline that ruptured in 2010.
  • Glamour Beasts: The dark side of elephant captivity

    The zoo industry claims that elephants are thriving inside U.S. zoos. But that’s not true. It never has been. The Times found that elephants are dying out inside zoos. For every elephant born, on average two others die. Just 288 elephants are left inside 78 accredited U.S. zoos. Captive elephants may be demographically extinct within 50 years – there won’t be enough females left to breed. The Times conducted a first-of-its-kind analysis of 390 elephant fatalities for the past 50 years. In a desperate race to make more baby elephants, Seattle’s Woodland Park has tried to artificially inseminate their Asian elephant, Chai, at least 112 times, sometimes adopting crude and reckless procedures. As nearly two dozen zoos have shutdown or plan to close elephant exhibits, nonprofit sanctuaries with thousands of acres represent one option for retired or unwanted elephants. But a zoo industry trade group is fighting a bitter battle to thwart sanctuaries and punish zoos that give up their elephants.