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 "waste disposal" ...

  • Waste Lands

    Today, they have long been converted into parks, office buildings and even hiking trails. But in a remarkable investigation, two of our most intrepid reporters discovered that in these places once stood factories and research centers that the government pressed into service to produce nuclear weapons. A yearlong effort resulted in revelations about what happened to the atomic waste from these facilities and a first-of-its-kind online historical database on more than 500 sites. The government, primarily the Energy Department, has for years assured the public the waste is being cleaned up efficiently and with no harm to anyone. It plans to have spent an estimated $350 billion before the work is done. But despite all this funding, as reporters John Emshwiller and Jeremy Singer-Vine discovered, the government hasn’t been able to find even the exact address of some of these facilities. Records on other sites are so spotty no real determination can be made on the next step. And 20 of the sites that were initially declared safe have required a second, and sometimes third, cleanup over the years. Thanks to an effort that married 21st-century Internet analysis with old-fashioned reporting, online readers can now enter their ZIP Code to get a full history of any site near them. The detail of this database—including hundreds of documents, corporate photos of factories and interviews with current property owners, most of whom had no idea of their property’s Cold War legacy—makes for helpful and at times alarming reading. Not surprisingly, almost a half a million online hits were recorded in the first weeks after our project, called Waste Lands, was published.
  • "Cruise Ships Dodge Rules"

    This investigation takes a look at the claims of cruise ships boasting "green" cruising and whether or not it can truly reduce the "impact on the environment." Despite the claims, reporters found that ships are playing the system and continue to dump harmful waste along their cruise routes, in areas where the rules are "less stringent."
  • Danger Below

    This investigation began with citizen complaints about New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation. Many of the complaints concern old toxic waste disposal sites; the agency does not make sure the contaminated groundwater and soil are completely cleaned, nor does the agency communicate with people affected by the sites. The DEC's shortcomings may have stemmed, in part, from its diminished resources and power under the administration of governor George Pataki.
  • Tin Men

    This story investigates corruption in Cleveland's scrap metal industry. It exposed the practice of looting vacant houses by "Tin Men" and the city's waste collection crews.
  • Talkin' Trash

    The authors investigated a scam run by Republic Waste Services involving the city of Houston. The investigation found that Republic had falsely charged the city for millions of dollars of waste disposal over a timespan of several years.
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out

    Siderius reports on flaws in the Dallas $17-million curbside recycling program, funded by taxpayers and operated by a private contractor, Community Waste Disposal. The story reveals that the city did not oversee the performance of the contractor; the company cheated about the number and weight of loads actually being recycled; and poor neighborhoods hardly received any service at all.
  • The Immortal Landfill

    Governing takes a look at landfills, such as Cedar Hills landfill near Seattle, and refutes the idea that landfills are obsolete. As long as burying trash remains the cheapest option for waste disposal, it will remain popular.
  • Fateful Harvest: The True Story of a Small Town, a Global Industry, and a Toxic Secret

    Wilson's book tells how "toxic heavy metals, dioxins and radioactive wastes are being recycled as fertilizer on farms, yards and gardens nationwide." The author profiles a small farming town - Quincy, Washington - and depicts the local government and community controversial reactions to the use of the unsafe fertilizer. The main finding is that "some large, polluting industries saved millions of dollars in hazardous-waste disposal costs through the fertilizer loophole, while the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) looked the other way."
  • High noon in the West; Plumbing the pasture; Who rules the trail; Who controls the land; Free-for-all in a forest; Not in our backyard; Crossing the divide

    A Time story package looks at the "epic battle for the West," in which giant oil companies and other mighty corporations have harmed the environment. The battle is over who gets to use the land in the West and for what purpose. The main story focuses on a series of federal government decisions "that could threaten the Yellowstone ecosystem." The article reports on several steps undertaken by the new Bush administration - blocking a plan to maintain the genetic diversity of the grizzly bears in the park, proposed lifting a ban on snowmobiles in the park, and projects for oil and gas drilling. The story describes the issue as "a conflict between federal and local," and finds that Yellowstone has become the focal point in the latest chapter in the battle for the West. The package includes maps and tables of who owns what in the West.
  • Nuclear Waste Is Good for You

    The Texas Observer looks at a paradoxical effort of the state of Texas to sell a nuclear dump to the public school students of Sierra Blanca. The story details how the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority has led students on tours of nuclear plants and dumps in order to convince them that "a nuclear waste dump in their town will be safe and beneficial." The report points to financial benefits received by various entities in Sierra Blanca as part of the promotional process for the projected waste dumpsite.