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 "refineries" ...

  • The Texas Observer and Grist with The Investigative Fund: Too Big to Fine, Too Small to Fight Back

    Citgo refineries spew thousands of tons of chemicals into the air, degrading air quality and putting human health at risk. Despite Citgo's revenues hitting north of $40 billion, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lets the company off easy. For her investigation in The Texas Observer, in partnership with Grist and The Investigative Fund, Naveena Sadasivam dug into how the TCEQ has fined corporate polluters $30 million for air violations, not much more than the $24 million imposed on gas stations, a significant percentage of which are owned by immigrants, just for record-keeping errors. The disparity between TCEQ's treatment of mom-and-pop operations versus large corporations favors those with money and power. The agency rarely punishes big polluters, often because of a legal loophole, and when it does levy a fine, lawyers negotiate big reductions in penalties. As a result, environmental advocates and small business owners say there's a fundamental unfairness at work with the way TCEQ treats the businesses it regulates.
  • Hell and High Water

    The Houston area is home to 6.5 million people, as well as America’s largest oil refining and petrochemical complex. And it’s a sitting duck for the extreme storms and floods that will become more common as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. So why isn’t Texas — or the federal government — doing more to protect it? https://projects.propublica.org/houston/
  • Growing Oil Train Traffic is Shrouded in Secrecy

    Oil train traffic in the Northwest is on the rise, as more oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota arrives at Washington refineries. But despite numerous incidents of oil trains catching fire and exploding around North America, the companies transporting that oil aren't sharing enough information with local and state emergency responders. Ashley Ahearn examined the consequences of that data gap and the risk to the public, and profiles citizens who are taking matters into their own hands and tracking the oil trains themselves.
  • Blood Lessons

    The Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle spent months examining whether the nation’s oil refineries had learned the lessons of the deadly explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery in 2005, one of the most horrific and studied industrial accidents in U.S. history. What our reporters found was astonishing: that preventable deaths in the industry have barely slowed in the decade since the blast in which 15 workers lost their lives.
  • Up in flames

    This yearlong investigation examined the amount of natural gas flaring in the Eagle Ford shale formation south of San Antonio, and its impact on air quality and the lives of area residents. We were the first publication to use state records to show how much gas was being flared, and how much it was polluting the air. The major findings: the oil field was burning enough gas to fuel all of San Antonio for a full year, and the pollution exceeded that of six large oil refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas. We also found that the state failed to enforce regulations on some of the largest polluters, and that some of the companies flaring the most gas had never applied for permits. The state cited the companies based on our findings.
  • 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.
  • Failures in the Golden State

    The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees or has some part in regulating everything from nail polish ingredients to oil refineries, radioactive waste to metal recycling in California. At the heart of our series is the story of a department that’s divided, dysfunctional, and ineffective in fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment of the Golden State. We sifted through hundreds of pages of reports, memos, reviews, manifests and legal claims. We also analyzed thousands of records in the department’s hazardous waste tracking system to find out that more than 40% of the hazardous waste manifests in the DTSC’s database contain inaccurate information or are missing key details. Our reporting has held leaders accountable at the DTSC and compelled state lawmakers to call for an investigation of the department, including a legislative hearing this month (January 2014). Through a series of public records requests, we found out some of the department’s top leaders were investing in companies the DTSC oversees. Our reporting into the potential financial conflicts of interest prompted an investigation into deputy director Odette Madriago by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Ms. Madriago resigned from her position six weeks after our report aired. The FPPC investigation remains ongoing.
  • Renegade Refinery

    Just weeks after the Deepwater Horizon disaster began, an analysis of inspection data obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that two oil refineries owned by BP accounted for a staggering 97 of the most flagrant violations found by OSHA inspectors. Most of these citation's were categorized as "egregiously willful."
  • In Harm's Way

    The Houston Chronicle funded and conducted a study into air quality at 84 homes and 16 public places in four Southwest Texas communities adjacent to major refineries and/or chemical plants. The newspaper also analyzed more than a decade's worth of air pollution data collected by the state. The effort revealed that residents in this area were being exposed to elevated levels of dangerous and cancer-causing pollutants. Officials were aware of this and some of their own employees charged with monitoring the air were getting sick themselves. The study was able to pinpoint the culprit, adjacent industries.
  • The Big Squeeze By Big Oil and Coffeyville Plant Brews Oil, Profits

    For years, many have suspected that the oil industry has been shutting down refineries for the sake of putting a squeeze on the market. Shutting down refineries and reducing available supplies and materials has helped to drive up gas prices and demolish available jobs. This investigation goes deeper to discover the truth behind rising gas prices.