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 "toxic waste" ...

  • 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.
  • Injection Wells - The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground

    Over the last several decades, U.S. industries have dumped more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic waste – a volume roughly four times that of Utah’s Great Salt Lake -- into injection wells deep beneath the earth’s surface. These wells epitomize the notion of out of sight, out of mind, entombing chemicals too dangerous to discard in rivers or soil. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for overseeing this invisible disposal system, setting standards that, above all, are supposed to safeguard sources of drinking water at a time when water has become increasingly precious. Abrahm Lustgarten’s series, “Injection Wells: the Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground,” lays out in frightening detail just how far short regulators have fallen in carrying out that mission. His analysis of hundreds of thousands of inspection records showed that wells often fail mechanical integrity tests meant to ensure contaminants aren’t leaking into water supplies and that companies repeatedly violate basic rules for safe disposal. EPA efforts to strengthen regulation of underground injection have been stymied time and again by the oil and gas industry, among the primary users of disposal wells. As the number of wells for drilling waste has grown to more than 150,000 nationwide, regulators haven’t kept pace, leaving gaps that have led to catastrophic breakdowns. And Lustgarten’s most surprising finding was that the EPA has knowingly permitted the energy industry to pollute underground reservoirs, handing out more than 1,500 “exemptions” allowing companies to inject waste and other chemicals into drinking water aquifers.
  • Pacific Steel Recycling Pollution

    KGTV 10News revealed toxic waste piles behind the gates of a San Diego County recycling yard- Pacific Steel Inc.
  • "Superfund Project"

    This project was reported by a group of interns at The Oklahoman who wanted to investigate the effects of toxic areas on Oklahoman residents. They revealed that the government had been trying to "stimulate activity to clean up the sites" by just transferring wastes from one place to another. It was also found that "little had been done" on several federal Superfund projects, and many were "underfunded."
  • "130 Million Tons of Waste"

    When coal is burned for electricity, it produces a byproduct called coal ash. "Every year, 130 million tons" of the ash is produced. It's "one of the largest waste-streams in the U.S.," and currently, there is little to no federal oversight. This report focuses on two major coal ash spills have occurred in the U.S. One of the spills caused "two communities to lose access to clean drinking water."
  • "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.
  • Toxic Waters

    With the aid of more than 500 Freedom of Information requests, reporter Charles Duhigg uncovered major problems with the nation's Clean Water Act. He found that out of the many "chemical plants" and "large manufacturers" who broke water pollution laws over the past several years, few were punished or even fined. He also found that millions of U.S. residents "have been exposed" to water that could be damaging to their health.
  • Toxic Legacy: The Story of Boat Harbor

    An inlet from the sea in Nova Scotia is the site of an environmental catastrophe wrought by a Scott Paper Company mill. To attract the mill, officials approved using Boat Harbor as a toxic waste treatment pond. The investigation details the actions governmental bodies took in conjunction with Scott Paper that produced the health hazard that Boat Harbor creates for nearby residents today.
  • Red River Dumping

    Millions of gallons of toxic waster were secretly being dumped into a northern Louisiana waterway. The September story started with an anonymous tip and led to the discovery of thousands of pages of online documents revealing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality concerns about the presence of dangerous toxins in waste water stored by CCS Midstream Services, LLC, hidden caches of toxic waste, falsified records and a hidden pipe leading into Red River.
  • A River Lost?

    This investigation explored the many ways in which a Seattle Superfund site, the Duwamish River, was being neglected by the government. The reporters found that plans to clean up the pollution fell short, that local governments did not follow EPA orders regarding the river, and locals who fish in the river are eating unsafe levels of contaminated fish.