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 oil" ...

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Excessive Speculation Distorts Commodity Markets, Harms Consumers

    The topic of our series was excessive financial speculation in commodity markets. Throughout one year, I worked on a series of labor-intensive investigative pieces showing how the influx of financial speculators in the futures market had distorted the price of crude oil, coffee, cotton and other commodities.
  • Excessive Speculation Distorts Commodity Markets, Harms Consumers

    The topic of our series was excessive financial speculation in commodity markets. Throughout one year, I worked on a series of labor-intensive investigative pieces showing how the influx of financial speculators in the futures market had distorted the price of crude oil, coffee, cotton and other commodities.
  • "Amazon Crude"

    More than 15 years ago, Ecuadorean residents sued Texaco for contaminating the Amazon Rain Forest with crude oil. The "oil waste pits" built by Texaco, now owned by Chevron, continue to leak toxins into the "region's waterways." According to an agreement between the company and the Ecuadorean government, Chevron is to cleanup 40 percent of the mess; however, the company "admitted" there is no record of all the contaminated sites.
  • BP Spikes Prices

    The story covers the alleged manipulation of West Coast crude oil prices by BP, based on 4,000 pages of evidence released from the antitrust case concerning the merger between BP and Amoco. By practicing exports to Far East at a lower net prices, using a computer software to determine the maximum possible accepted price for the crude oil delivered to rafineries and charging differenciated prices for the same product, the scheme contributed to the reason why West Coast motorists pay about 20 cents more/gallon than the national average. Four follow up stories are also included.
  • Pipelines: The invisible danger

    In a four-part investigative series American-Statesmen examines "the operation and regulation of some of the most profitable companies in America, those that operate pipelines carrying oil, gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas and other hazardous materials." The reporting team reveals the dangerous - and at times deadly - condition of the pipelines the American industry uses to transport crude oil and natural gas. The stories point to statistics showing that from 1984 through 2000 a total of 366 people have died in the USA as a result of pipeline leaks and explosions. Inspections have showed that one inactive pipeline, which passes through the populated area of Austin, has had "4,000 anomalies" caused by weak steel skin. Texas is notorious for the highest death toll, since it is the state with the most miles of pipelines. The follow-up editorials focus on the need for reforms, and suggest new federal and state regulation that would improve pipeline safety.