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 "trains" ...

  • Drunk and Still Driving

    3 train derailments in a row, including one that forced a neighborhood to evacuate has jolted local residents. Fortunately, no one was killed in these accidents, but it's raising some questions.
  • 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.
  • Trains Plus Crude Oil Equals Trouble Down the Track

    The project represents a yearlong examination of the response to safety problems associated with a massive and sudden increase in crude oil transported by rail. It found that government and industry had failed to identify and correct safety gaps in the rail system, including the inspection and maintenance of track and bridges and the design of the tank cars carrying the oil. It also showed that government efforts to better inform local emergency response personnel still left them in the dark on some types of crude oil moved by rail and on smaller shipments. Additionally, the project detailed efforts by railroads and some states to keep even limited information about crude oil trains out of public view.
  • Oil Trains in Oregon

    Without any public knowledge or advance planning, railroad companies began moving hundreds of millions of gallons of highly explosive oil in unsafe tank cars through some of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic places. The sudden rise caught first responders, public officials, local residents and regulators by surprise. A rolling investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found extensive flaws in state readiness and an opaque state rail safety system that acted beholden to the railroads it was supposed to be regulating.
  • 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.
  • Workers Question Safety Culture Within Railroads Hauling Crude Oil

    KUOW's investigation into worker complaints about BNSF Railway's documents how the company has prioritized speed and profits over safety, with a history of retaliating against workers who report accidents, injuries and safety concerns. Railroad safety has come under public scrutiny now that trains are hauling millions of gallons of oil across North America. In the Northwest, BNSF carries the vast majority of the especially combustible Bakken crude from North Dakota and neighboring states. The railroad now moves nearly 20 oil trains per week through the Columbia River Gorge. The story of Curtis Rookaird, which our investigation and resulting documents confirm, illustrate how a BNSF Railway worker's insistence that government safety standards are followed -- even at the expense of speeding freight to its destination, led to his dismissal.
  • Oil Train Safety Put At Risk

    Oregon Public Broadcasting's investigation into worker complaints about BNSF Railway's documents how the company has prioritized speed and profits over safety, with a history of retaliating against workers who report accidents, injuries and safety concerns. Railroad safety has come under public scrutiny now that trains are hauling millions of gallons of oil across North America. In the Northwest, BNSF carries the vast majority of the especially combustible Bakken crude from North Dakota and neighboring states. The railroad now moves nearly 20 oil trains per week through the Columbia River Gorge. Worker fatigue is a major contributor to these dangers on the rails. As they uncovered, irregular work schedules and sleep disorders are a well-known contributor to train derailments, and yet, the industry has failed to make the adjustments that have been identified as ways to reduce the risk of crashes and derailments.
  • 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.
  • State Restrains Psychiatric Patients At High Rate

    Between 2001 and 2007, Connecticut hospitals have been cited by the federal government for overuse of restraints and seclusions involving psychiatric patients. When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released for the first time data on hospital restraints it was an opportunity to report on the restraint practices at Connecticut's hospitals.
  • How NJ Transit Failed Sandy's Test

    On the weekend before Sandy thundered into New Jersey, transit officials studied a map showing bright green and orange blocks. On the map, the area where most New Jersey Transit trains were being stored showed up as orange – or dry. So keeping the trains in its centrally-located Meadows Maintenance Complex and the nearby Hoboken yards seemed prudent. And it might have been a good plan. Except the numbers New Jersey Transit used to create the map were wrong. If officials had entered the right numbers, they would have predicted what actually happened: a storm surge that engulfed hundreds of rail cars, some of them brand new, costing over $120 million in damage and thrusting the system’s passengers into months of frustrating delays. But the fate of NJ Transit’s trains – over a quarter of the agency’s fleet - didn’t just hang on one set of wrong inputs. It followed years of missed warnings, failures to plan, and lack of coordination under Governor Chris Christie, who has expressed ambivalence about preparing for climate change while repeatedly warning New Jerseyans not to underestimate the dangers of severe storms.