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 "hazardous" ...

  • Bombs In Your Backyard: Investigating One of America’s Greatest Polluters

    The military might of the United States has come at an extraordinary environmental price. The nation’s defense technologies and armaments have been developed, tested, stored, decommissioned and disposed of on vast tracts of American soil, where they have polluted fields and rivers, contaminated drinking water and put legions of people’s health at risk. For the first time, this project examined the full extent of the damage — 39,000 sites adding up to an area larger than the state of Florida, affecting millions of people. Our stories exposed the Pentagon’s routine practice of open burning of hazardous waste; its reliance on incompetent or fraudulent contractors that dump waste or fake cleanups; its four-decade campaign to make a dangerous and pervasive chemical explosive appear safe and avoid regulation; and its explicit refusal to comply with federal environmental laws even when the exposure of young children to lead poisoning from munition was at stake. We gained exclusive access to the Pentagon’s complete environmental dataset, and created a news application which for the first time mapped searchable data about contaminated sites across U.S. territories.
  • Bombs In Your Backyard

    The military might of the United States has come at an extraordinary environmental price. The nation’s defense technologies and armaments have been developed, tested, stored, decommissioned and disposed of on vast tracts of American soil, where they have polluted fields and rivers, contaminated drinking water and put legions of people’s health at risk. For the first time, this project examined the full extent of the damage — 39,000 sites adding up to an area larger than the state of Florida, affecting millions of people. Our stories exposed the Pentagon’s routine practice of open burning of hazardous waste; its reliance on incompetent or fraudulent contractors that dump waste or fake cleanups; its four-decade campaign to make a dangerous and pervasive chemical explosive appear safe and avoid regulation; and its explicit refusal to comply with federal environmental laws even when the exposure of young children to lead poisoning from munition was at stake. We gained exclusive access to the Pentagon’s complete environmental dataset, and created a news application which for the first time mapped searchable data about contaminated sites across U.S. territories.
  • Reuters: Ambushed at Home

    A Reuters series exposes the hazardous, squalid housing of American military families.
  • Hazardous Waste Regulation Challenges in California

    Despite a number of organizations overseeing the metal shredding industry, regulators have struggled to be effective in their efforts, possibly jeopardizing environmental and societal health. A deep dive into the Sims Recycling Plant in Silicon Valley uncovered decades of violations and millions of dollars of fines. And the failure to effectively police these plants are hurting local residents: in late 2013, the San Francisco Peninsula was engulfed in noxious black smoke when fires broke out at the facility.
  • Noncompliant Hazardous Waste Facility

    A facility that handles hazardous wastes - including chemicals from auto repair shops, industrial plants and paint stores - before they're moved to permanent disposal sites has operated without a permit because of failures of the city and the company's owners.
  • In These Times: Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market

    We investigated the numerous ways the chemical industry influences regulation of chemicals by the EPA and the FDA. Specifically, we discovered that industry-funded researchers have used a particular type of scientific study called “physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling” to support industry claims that economically important chemicals are safe. We found that the scientists who pioneered PBPK modeling while working for the Air Force in the early 1980s had recognized early on that PBPK studies could be used to industry’s advantage. As we examined the record over the past four decades, it became clear that these studies are primarily conducted by regulatory toxicologists working as private consultants or for research institutions funded by chemical companies. Further, these same individuals and consultancies often receive federal grants and contracts, suggesting widespread conflicts of interest. Our investigation documents the outcome – often delay or outright termination – of regulatory processes for numerous hazardous chemicals, including methylene chloride, formaldehyde, bisphenol A, perchlorate, styrene, and chlorpyrifos. While other journalists have documented the chemical industry’s political influence, to our knowledge no other journalists have brought to light the ways science itself is being manipulated.
  • Hydrogen Energy: Pollution or Solution

    This is the result of a two-month investigation into a proposed, federally-funded "green-energy" power plant in the middle of California's Central Valley. This plant planned to gasify coal and use new technology to diminish the amount of CO2 released into the air. This would be done by using carbon sequestration in nearby oil fields, creating jobs and energy for the valley. However this report shows that while this power plant reduces CO2 emissions and creates dozens of temporary jobs, the additional environmental impacts are substantial. The plant plans to truck in coal dust past schools and neighborhoods, use millions of gallons of water a day in drought-stricken farming country, pollute the air with particulate pollution in the most polluted air region in the country, store hazardous chemicals near schools and homes, fill landfills at an alarming rate, AND at the end of it all the plant will produce at times NO electricity.
  • 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.
  • “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm”

    More than 75 years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law. A groundbreaking achievement in the fight against child labor, the FLSA banned children from mines and factories, while also granting the Secretary of Labor the authority to protect youth from working in any other hazardous occupations. This series on child labor in agriculture uncovers how loopholes in the law continue to put child farm workers as young as 12 at risk for grave illness, injury, and death. It shows how the agriculture lobby fought back in 2012, blocking new rules that would have closed these loopholes — and that children have died as a result. “Leaves of Poison” focuses on the use of children as young as 12 to harvest tobacco in Southern tobacco fields. Tobacco is a notoriously hazardous crop, exposing field workers to acute nicotine poisoning, with symptoms that can include dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and heart rate fluctuations requiring hospitalization. The plants are also sprayed with high doses of pesticides, which pose special dangers to adolescents whose nervous systems are still developing. These dangers have led countries such as Russia and Khazakstan to ban minors from tobacco work, and the United States has donated millions to eradicate child tobacco labor overseas. But a proposed rule by the Department of Labor banning children from the harvest (and other particularly “hazardous” tasks) was withdrawn by Obama administration officials in response to concerted lobbying by the American Farm Bureau. “Dying on the Farm” was an ambitious effort to track how many child laborers have died since those rules were scuttled in April 2012, which would have barred them from performing particularly “hazardous” tasks, such as harvesting tobacco, working in manure pits and grain silos, or using heavy power machinery. The investigation shows that child farmworkers “fall through the cracks” when it comes to government tallies of work-related injuries and deaths. Nevertheless, using FOI requests to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Workers’ Compensation offices, surveying local press clippings, and speaking with medical practitioners who work directly with farmworkers we found that at least four young farm workers-for-hire have been killed and 39 injured while doing these hazardous tasks since the rules were withdrawn. Both “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm” movingly tell the personal stories of young workers at a risk.
  • The Prescribers

    Never-before-released government prescription records shows that some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs known to be potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients. And officials have done little to detect or deter these hazardous prescribing patterns.