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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "toxic" ...

  • Breaking The Silence: Addressing Sexual Assault On Campus

    An investigation into how the University of Kansas pursued one rape case (http://huff.to/W8uLVy), where the assailant confessed, resulted in the harshest sanction being probation, specifically because the university wanted to avoid being "punitive." Meanwhile, the city police decline to investigate underage drinking at a fraternity where victim had become intoxicated, and the district attorney decides to close the case until HuffPost contacts him. The Breaking the Silence series uses a range of perspectives to explore the lenient and lackadaisical approach of colleges across America to sexual assaults committed on their campuses. The first piece included here is an investigation into how the University of Kansas handled one rape case in which the assailant confessed, and whose harshest sanction was probation — specifically because the university wanted to avoid being "punitive," citing a higher-ed trade group’s guidance. The city police declined to investigate underage drinking at the fraternity where the victim had become intoxicated, and the district attorney decided to close the case until HuffPost contacted him. Another, data-driven piece examines whether schools like the University of Kansas are anomalies. We concluded that most colleges opt not to remove sexual assault offenders from campus, with many citing the same higher-ed trade group's guidance to be "educative, not punitive" in their approach to punishing rape and sexual misconduct. Fewer than one-third of cases where a student is found responsible for sexual assault result in expulsion In our third piece, we found that even when a school does investigate and punish a student for sexual assault, it doesn't stop the student from transferring to another campus, sometimes without anyone at the new school knowing about his past misconduct.
  • Danger Zone

    The expansion of oil and gas drilling in the United States has turned the world's energy economy upside down. For the first time in 20 years, the country is producing more oil than it imports. The rapid increase in production, driven by hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," has also started a passionate argument about safety and environmental protection. But the drilling industry's status as one of the most dangerous in the country for workers is often overlooked. It's rarely mentioned, even though many of the threats to workers, such as explosions and toxic gases, also present a threat to the general public.
  • Big Oil, Bad Air

    Texas lies at the epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing – fracking – boom. What began in the Barnett Shale of North Texas 15 years ago has spread to the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas and across the United States, to include regions unaccustomed to dealing with the fossil fuel industry. Until early 2014, the national media had paid little attention to the frenzy of drilling in the Eagle Ford, one of the most active shale plays in the world. It seemed the right place for us to explore a little-discussed yet critical aspect of the boom: toxic air emissions associated with wells, compressor stations and processing plants.
  • The Human Toll of Hanford's Dirty Secrets

    “The Human Toll of Hanford’s Dirty Secrets” exposed a decades-long effort to hide the health threat posed to workers at the Hanford Nuclear Site in southeastern Washington. Since March dozens of workers (56 at the time of this writing) have become sick on the job after inhaling toxic chemical vapors emitted from underground nuclear storage tanks. These workers are just the most recent to be harmed by exposure to the vapors, which have been allowed to vent into the atmosphere dating back to the facility’s establishment in the 1940s.
  • West Virginia Water Crisis

    On Jan. 9, 2014, a chemical tank at Freedom Industries leaked on the Elk River, just north of the drinking water intake that serves 300,000 people in Charleston, the West Virginia state capital, and surrounding communities. Residents and businesses were ordered not to drink, bathe in or cook with tap water, a warning that remained in place for up to a week. Stories examined the lack of environmental enforcement, inadequate information about the toxic chemicals involved, and poorly planned water quality sampling that was used to decide when the water was again safe to use.
  • Contamination Nation

    The lure of gold helped build the fledgling northern community of Yellowknife, NWT when the Giant Mine site opened in 1948, but that development came at a heavy cost. For more than 50 years, the mine pumped arsenic into the air, contaminating people, water and land. What didn’t go up the stacks was squirreled away in the deep, dark mine shafts below the ground and forgotten, until recently. Today, there’s enough arsenic buried there to kill everyone on the planet, and the federal government is racing to contain the poison before it leeches into life-sustaining land and waterways. It will cost a billion dollars to stabilize the site, and that’s only a small part of the toxic legacy of development.
  • Courthouse Drug Scandal

    This is coverage of a courthouse drug scandal involving the death of one state judge due to cocaine toxicity and an FBI investigation that led to federal drugs and weapons charges against another sitting state judge who headed the County Drug Court.
  • The Fenimore Fumes

    A series of reports, aired over a period of months, exposed serious problems related to a redevelopment project at the Fenimore Landfill, resulting in a state takeover and a new law changing how remediation projects are handled in the future. The investigation found that dangerous fumes were being released, putting thousands of residents at risk; that the project may not have been necessary; that new homes were built adjacent to a leaking toxic site without proper disclosures to buyers; that the project was entrusted to a convicted felon (contrary to state law) who had bribed public officials in a project; and that the entire project was based on illegal contracts as the man who signed them claiming to be the developer owned neither the property not the development company.
  • Exhausted at School

    Gaze out the windows of John Marshall Junior High in Seattle and you will see cars and trucks whizzing by on the busiest freeway in the state, Interstate 5. John Marshall is one of 28 public schools and more than 125 day cares that InvestigateWest has found built within 500 feet of Washington’s highest-traffic roadways. That’s close enough to put children’s health at risk, say health researchers. For “Exhausted at School,” InvestigateWest combined data from multiple state agencies and pored over dozens of academic studies to understand the threat of toxic pollution and its effect on kids’ health at school. Our reporting immediately spurred Seattle Schools officials to action: they added a new policy to issue air quality alerts to principals, and announced plans to upgrade a decades-old ventilation system at John Marshall. Officials in Olympia and Washington, D.C., considered and then rejected the notion of banning or severely restricting construction of schools inside the pollution plume, according to interviews and records obtained by InvestigateWest. Meanwhile, state officials do not enforce rules requiring day cares to be built on environmentally safe sites. So schools and day cares continue to be built in the danger zone around freeways, and children pay the price – years after the dangers were conclusively proven. “Exhausted at School” is a collaboration between InvestigateWest and KING 5 Television.
  • Toxic Legacy

    Employees of Technicoat, a metal coating company based in Fort Worth in the ‘70s and 80s, hired teenagers to dispose of industrial waste and harmful chemicals. None of the employees went through any kind of safety training or were given protective gear. Now many of the company’s former employees have either died from illnesses linked to chemical exposure or are currently battling illnesses that are likely related to being exposed to chemicals during their tenure at Technicoat. The story found that the city of Fort Worth and the Tarrant Regional Water District are still dealing with the environmental impact of the company’s illegal chemical dumping – sometimes down storm drains, in holes dug in the ground, or straight into the Trinity River – as the area that housed the Technicoat plant is being redeveloped. It also discovered that the company blatantly disregarded federal safety standards and was fined multiple times by different federal, state, and local agencies for environmental and safety violations.