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 "plutonium" ...

  • Nuclear Waste

    What could possibly be wrongheaded about a U.S.-Russian effort to eliminate 64 tons of plutonium that could be fashioned into thousands of nuclear weapons? Begun in the 1990’s, it was blessed by four presidents, including Barack Obama, who called it an important way “to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.” To carry it out, the federal government spent billions of dollars on a South Carolina plant to transform the Cold War detritus into fuel for civilian nuclear power plants, an act meant to turn swords into ploughshares — all with surprisingly little debate or oversight in Washington. When the Center for Public Integrity looked closely at the project, after hearing of some of its troubles, we found plenty of scandal. Our major conclusions are reported in our "Nuclear Waste" series of four articles totaling around 12,000 words that were published in June 2013.
  • Hanford's Dirty Secrets

    “Hanford’s Dirty Secrets” exposed mismanagement, wasted tax dollars and a cover-up by government officials and private contractors at the country’s most contaminated site -- the Hanford Nuclear Reservation located in Washington state -- where the most complex environmental cleanup effort in human history is underway. The liquid and solid waste housed at Hanford is dangerously radioactive and toxic, and any leak has the potential to pose serious threats to human and environmental health throughout the Pacific Northwest. The federal government produced plutonium at Hanford for the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan and for the U.S. nuclear arsenal throughout the Cold War. This production left behind millions of gallons of cancer-causing nuclear byproducts, much of which remains stored in aging underground tanks at Hanford. KING’s reporting showed that the government contractor in charge of the tanks ignored signs of leaking nuclear waste for nearly a year while the company collected millions in bonus money from the Dept. of Energy for its "very successful" stewardship of the waste holding tanks. In addition, we revealed that during the year the contractor failed to address the leak, the company wasted millions of taxpayer funds on a project rendered useless by the very fact that the tank was leaking
  • Assault on Pelindaba

    "Assault on Pelindaba is a story about global nuclear weapons proliferation and the very real threat of nuclear terrorism post 9/11. Experts agree that acquiring plutonium or highly enriched uranium, the material to actually make a nuclear weapon, is not easy."
  • America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise

    The book "chronicles the role the United States and its allies played in allowing Pakistan to first develop and then peddle nuclear weapons technology."
  • Hot asphalt

    Los Angeles Times Magazine looks at the potential health hazards that residents of Shoshone, California, may face, if 127 California becomes the state's busiest transportation route for nuclear radioactive waste. The story reveals the concerns of local environmentalists that radioactive waste shippers are inevitably going to be in accidents. The reporter also cites property owners, who find that the converting the highway into a waste tract will have bad effect on local businesses.
  • The case of the missing H-bomb

    An In These Times investigation reveals that "the Pentagon has lost track of the mother of all weapons, a hydrogen bomb ... designed to incinerate Moscow." The article tells a 40-year old story of a training mishap, which resulted in dropping the bomb into the shallow waters of Warsaw Sound, near the mouth of the Savannah River. The reporter cites Pentagon's internal memos showing that the bomb has never been found, and that the military has recognized this as a potential threat. "There exists the possibility of accidental discovery of the uncovered weapon through dredging or construction in the probable impact area," states one of the memos. Other declassified documents, used in the story, reveal incidents with H-bombs accidentally dropped in foreign lands, which the Pentagon has covered up.
  • Cold War Poison: The Paducah Legacy

    The Louisville Courier-Journal investigates the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, a uranium processing plant built during the Cold War. In 1999, workers from the plant filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were exposed to harmful radioactive materials. The Courier-Journal obtained memos from plant administrators that shows they knew about possible hazards, but ruled them to be "acceptable risks."
  • Rocky Flats: From Cold War to Hot Property

    Westword examines what has happened to Rocky Flats after the Atomic Energy Commission built a nuclear-weapons plant near the Denver area in the 1950s. The disposal of more than 1,500 kinds of chemicals and radioactive plutonium. Dow Chemical undertook only the slightest precautions in getting rid of the waste. It attempted solar evaporation ponds and mixing the toxic, often radioactive sludge with cement that never hardened. Over the years, materials left unprotected outside in second-hand barrels and other careless containers seeped into the prairies and groundwater. In 1974, Rockwell International took over and continued the pollution. In 1989, the plant was raided by the FBI and Colorado's first ever grand jury convened. Indictments and a $18.5 million fine were levied at Rockwell, the contractor and DOE employees. Today, an ambitious goal of cleaning up the land by 2006 is set but few have faith that the environmental damage sustained at Rocky Flats can be undone.
  • In Harm's Way, But In the Dark: Workers Exposed to Plutonium at U.S. Plant

    The Washington Post reports that "Thousands of uranium workers were unwittingly exposed to plutonium and other highly radioactive metals (in Paducah, KY) at a federally owned plant where contamination spread through work areas, locker rooms and even cafeterias....Today, the Department of Energy contends that worker exposure was minimal and that contamination is being cleaned up. A lawsuit filed under seal in June by three current plant employees alleges that radiation exposure was a problem at Paducah well into the 1990s...."
  • Nukes in Space 2: Unacceptable Risks

    EnviroVideo documentary that concerns the dangers of the mission of the Cassini space probe that contains 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide fuel - especially the danger when the probe is to be sent on a "flyby" of Earth on August 19, 1999 to attain additional velocity so it can reach its final destination, Saturn.