The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "miners" ...

  • A Coalfield legacy: black lung

    The Roanoke Times looks at the common complaints of Virginia miners who go through the federal black lung program. "Passed more than three decades ago to lower levels of dust in coal mines and to compensate miners suffering from black lung, the program has fallen far short of its goal. Since 1982, between 92 percent and 96 percent of all Virginia miners who applied for black lung benefits were denied. Most were turned down because they failed to produce enough evidence that they had the disease. But few miners are able to prove they have black lung because they often lack the financial resources to hire medical experts." In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor does grant temporary benefits to miners after the examinations are doctor approved. However, when coal companies appeal, the doctors are not present to back up their decision. Instead miners end up losing their benefits due to the lack of experts on their side, and ultimately end up paying the government back.
  • Gene Blues

    Washington Monthly examines whether the Patent Office is "prepared to deal with the genomic revolution." The report looks at the administrative procedure by which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) examines the overwhelming flow of applications for patents on genes. The story describes how "examiners initially reject most submissions but subsequently accept about half after the applicant makes suggested revisions." It also reveals that from all the 30,000 humane genes in the genome, "about 1,000 have already been claimed, and an estimated 10,000-20,000 applications are pending..." The author draws the conclusion that PTO - although tightening its rules in a way - "has not yet tackled the ... issue of how companies use patents," thus potentially allowing corporate interests to harm public interest in the future.
  • Asbestos: Forgotten Killer

    "The series dealt with the continuing exposure to cancer-causing asbestos by hundreds of thousands of miners, construction workers, home gardeners, auto mechanics and others. Industry claimed there was no danger and government, for the most part, believed that asbestos had been banned.... The stories that followed (Seattle P-I 1999 coverage) in 2000 documented that miners in other places are being killed by the same fibers today and asbestos can still be found in such benign consumer products as crayons, play sand, garden products, attic insulation, wall board, construction products and vehicle brake shoes." (file includes text of "Uncivil Action: A Town Left to Die)
  • Dangers Ignored in Mine Tragedy

    The Arizona Republic investigated an array of safety violations at a copper mine near Tucson, Arizona. The series started with a story about a fatal rock-fall that caused the death of a miner. This incident led the reporters "to a disturbing story of unsafe conditions, worker intimidation and regulatory laxity surrounding the mostly Hispanic workers..." The investigation found that "Mission Mine management refused to regularly install safety bolts, used to prevent failing rocks" and that Asarco, the owning company, "cordoned off unsafe areas to keep inspectors out even though miners regularly worked there." The reporters revealed a vicious circle that didn't allow the miners to prevent the dangers. The investigation found that "mine managers ordered a supervisor ... to fire employees who complained," while the local regulatory office refused to take seriously anonymous safety complaints.
  • Kentucky Shortchanging Coal Miners' Safety

    This series of the Courier-Journal "exposed lax state enforcement of mine-safety violations." The reporter found that the Kentucky mining board "rarely used its full authority to revoke or suspend companies' mining licenses and miners' certifications," when hearings were held on mine-safety cases. The series focused also on the failure of the board to formally review "nearly 100 cases since 1990 in which Kentucky coal companies and/or supervisors were convicted of federal mine-safety violations." The investigation exposed cases of falsified tests detecting coal-dust levels, improper handling of explosives, illegal smoking underground and falsified safety training documents.
  • Bad Medicine

    An Arizona Republic investigation reveals that the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners is negligent. The board allows doctors to "keep practicing even when they have repeated complaints and even when they admit serious medical errors."
  • Coal Synfuels: A $1 Billion Federal Tax Scam?

    The Charleston Gazette investigates the many coal synfuel plants that opened up in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky in the fall of 1999. Synthetic fuel, or synfuel, has become more popular with energy providers since 1979. That year, Congress passed a bill that would give a tax credit to those who produce synfuels. The hope was that the bill would help make the U.S. more energy independent in the wake of the Arab oil embargo. While the bill has made the nation less dependent on foreign oil, it has also caused problems for traditional, domestic coal miners. Because they receive a tax credit, synfuel producers charge less for their product than traditional coal miners. Thus, energy suppliers are turning more and more to the cheaper synfuel. Synfuel producers are threatening to put traditional miners out of business.
  • Heroin

    The Orlando Sentinel reports "Heroin use in greater Orlando continues to climb far beyond experts' expectations. What once seemed dangerous experimentation by young people has evolved into a frightening level of addiction that continues to spread through the population. Law enforcement agencies have been slow to recognize the depth of the problem. Statistics have painted a less serious picture because state medical examiners' reporting procedures have virtually ignored many deaths in which heroin was a significant factor.... local investigators hadn't recognized that local addicts were shifting from snorting heroin to injecting it, a frightening sign of the growing addiction here..."
  • Uncivil Action - A Town Left to Die, Asbestos: Forgotten Killer

    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "From 1924 until 1990, miners extracted a large percentage of the world's vermiculite from a mountainside near Libby (Montana). As they mined and milled the ore, millions of tons of tremolite asbestos were released into the air... 192 people from Libby had died, and 375 were currently diagnosed with fatal asbestos-related disease, directly traceable to the mining operation. ... The W.R. Grace Co., which owned the mine for three decades, was well aware of the deadly asbestos being inhaled by the miners and their families, but for years did not tell its workers of the hazards... And doctors say the people of Libby will keep dying for decades..."
  • Series of titles. Lead story: "Truckers' trail of danger"

    The Chicago Sun-Times' "investigation shows how a political corruption scandal jeopardized the lives of people across the country. ... (F)ederal prosecutors indicted six people who allowed unqualified truck drivers to bribe their way past crucial licensing exams. Indicted licensing examiners and higher-ranking state officials churned bribe money into campaign contributions for their boss, then Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan, who is now governor."