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 "terminal" ...

  • Frankenstein Guardrails

    The FOX31 Denver’s investigative unit discovered Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews assembling guardrail systems with mix-and-match parts from competing manufacturers. By “Frankensteining” already questionable end-cap terminals, with incompatible rails, the state had been creating serious road safety hazards for years. Within a week of the revelation, the Federal Highway Administration ordered a nationwide warning and Colorado began inspecting every guardrail system in the state (42,000 end-cap terminals/21,000 guardrail systems), repairing hundreds of dangerous installation errors.
  • Deficient Hospices Rarely Punished

    After mining a database of inspection records, Huffington Post determined that hospices frequently go three years -- and sometimes much longer -- without any regulatory scrutiny. It also showed that when hospices break Medicare's rules, endangering the safety and even lives of their frail patients, they are virtually never punished. Medicare’s regulator has punished a hospice provider just 16 times in the last decade, despite carrying out 15,000 inspections and identifying more than 31,000 violations. In each instance, the hospice’s license was terminated -- the sole recourse for regulators when they confront a hospice that breaks the rules. The system of oversight designed to ensure sound practices in an industry that has quadrupled in size since 2000 simply has no means to assess fines or other punishments. The service, which at its best provides a caring, home-based alternative to hospitalization for terminally ill patients, is increasingly how Americans die. Yet virtually nothing is known about the quality of the companies providing that service. This story reveals to consumers those hospices that regulators have determined have the most problems -- and hopefully spurring government authorities to act.
  • Deadly Impact

    This in-depth, nine month investigation by Chief Correspondent Brian Ross and Producer Cindy Galli was the first to disclose previously-secret company emails and documents, all pointing to an internal cover-up by guardrail manufacturer Trinity Industries. The company had modified a popular highway product without disclosing the changes to the government, as is required by law. That design change has now been blamed for injuries and deaths around the country. It also called into question the lack of oversight by the Federal Highway Administration. The first reports had an immediate impact as over a dozen states suspended purchases of the questionable guardrail end terminals in the days following the report. When we first reported our story, the Federal Highway Safety Administration said it considered the guardrail end terminals to be safe. Since our broadcast, more than 40 states have suspended the use of the devices and under growing pressure from congressional and state officials, the Federal Highway Administration has now ordered the company to conduct new safety tests which are currently ongoing .
  • Spearing Cars in the Name of Safety

    Guardrails on the nation's highways are supposed to protect us. Too often, though, they have inflicted harm. Patrick G. Lee investigated how a Texas company altered its taxpayer-funded guardrail system under the government's nose, to potentially deadly effect. Months before other media, Lee exposed the potential hazard posed by Trinity Industries Inc.'s ET-Plus end terminal, a 175-pound piece of steel mounted at the ends of a guardrail. Intended to absorb the force of a crash, some of them lock up, piercing cars and their occupants. Lee recounted one would-be whistleblower's cross-country quest, starting in late 2011, to learn why these systems were spearing cars. The discovery: Trinity had modified the ET-Plus more than a half-decade earlier without telling regulators. The newer version, modified to cut manufacturing costs, was malfunctioning, several plaintiffs alleged.
  • Medical Marijuana

    Loose restrictions in state law and scant oversight by regulators have allowed people to hijack Oregon’s medical marijuana program for purposes voters never intended, The Oregonian’s investigation revealed. Most patients are using the drug to treat chronic pain rather than terminal illness, far more marijuana is grown than patients consume, and traffickers ship the excess out of state for profit. At the heart of the yearlong investigation was a wide range of public records. First there were written documents: court records and police reports on medical marijuana growers; disciplinary actions against doctors who admit patients to the state program; internal policy manuals; and correspondence between regulators and doctors. Then there were electronic data. Through months of negotiations, the paper persuaded state health authorities to release a database of participants in the marijuana program that protected patient confidentiality. A separate database on Oregon State Police traffic stops helped us to demonstrate the widespread diversion of medical marijuana to the black market. Among the investigation’s original results, published as an occasional series: Communities in southern Oregon have concentrations of marijuana patients 10 times the statewide average; Police patrolling Oregon’s highways now seize more West Coast medical marijuana than pot grown outside the program; The state places few limitations on felons participating in the program, and dozens of trafficking prosecutions involve medical marijuana cardholders with existing criminal histories; Fifty-two children are legally permitted to use pot under the state program, with limited input from pediatricians or specialists treating their underlying illnesses; Nine doctors signed off on more than half the patients in the program, and 75 percent of patients used doctors with improbably high caseloads.
  • Death Takes A Policy

    In a look at how the insurance industry has transformed from its traditional bread and butter of selling life insurance to selling complex financial products, ProPublica's Jake Bernstein and This American Life's Alex Blumberg explore how one man used variable annuities to make a fortune at the expense of other people dying. The story is told through the lens of Joseph Caramadre - a Rhode Island lawyer who is adept at exploiting fine print. Caramadre would offer $2,000 to $10,000 dollars to people who were close to death in exchange for their personal information so that he could buy an annuity on their life and then pocket any profit when that person died. Some involved with Caramadre's plot viewed him as a modern-day Robin Hood, offering sorely-needed financial support during their last days, while others cast him as a criminal taking advantage of people in a vulnerable state. While the ethics of his scheme are debatable, insurance companies and the government don't think there's much to dispute as criminal charges were brought against Caramadre for engaging in identity theft, conspiracy, and two different kinds of fraud for preying on the sick and deceiving the terminally ill to make millions for himself and his clients.
  • Should Washington Become The King of Shipping Coal to China?

    SSA Marine, a company specializing in marine terminal operations, signed a contract with coal producer, Peabody Energy, to ship 24 millions metric tons of coal. The terminal raised concerns for enviromentalists who opposed shipping to China, especially in light of Washington's 2011 legislation not to burn coal for its own power.
  • 21st Century Snake Oil

    The story exposed medical con men who prey on the terminally ill by selling stem cell treatments not proven to be safe or effective.
  • On the Waterfront

    This series documented how the Port of Seattle cut deals with one company and its partners to develop a conference center, corporate club and cruise terminal on the central waterfront. The port uses tax dollars to shoulder all of the financial risk and only makes a marginal profit. Instead, the private company makes millions from the development. The lack of controls violates state law.
  • LNG Controversy Dogs Every Step of the Policy Process

    Reporting for the Malibu Times at first, Hans Laetz looks into Australian Energy Conglomerate BHP Billiton's plans to "build a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal floating off the local coast." But after two months, Laetz was removed from coverage by the Times amid criticism, possibly due to the fact BHP Billiton was an advertising client of the Times. He then was picked up by the Malibu Surfside News, and continued to tell a tale of the various aspects of the deal: how BHP got a smog waiver after White House officials overruled local Environmental Protection Agency officials, the safety and pollution risks of the project; citizens' letters supporting the project to the government, which turned out mostly to be fake; and the opposition of state and federal parks officials to the project.