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 "water" ...

  • Loophole Lets Toxic Oil Water Flow Over Indian Land

    NPR obtained internal documents from the Environmental Protection Agency that show that the agency has long been allowing oil companies to release polluted water on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. Millions of gallons of waste are released every month, creating streams of waste which ends up in natural rivers. The federal government banned this kind of dumping in the 1970s, but they made an exception, a loophole for the arid West. States in the West, however, eventually set up their own regulations to prevent this kind of polluting. Indian reservations are regulated only by the EPA, so the practice still happens in places like the Wind River reservation in Wyoming.
  • The Fracking Boom, Missing Answers

    Is hydraulic fracking for natural gas safe? That’s one of the big questions surrounding America’s fracking boom. Homeowners with these gas wells literally in their backyards have complained of contaminated drinking water wells and noxious fumes. The natural gas industry has said that except for the occasional accident, fracking is not to blame. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the natural gas industry, says fracking is safe and there’s no proof that the practice causes significant damage to the environment or human health. In our series, NPR decided to investigate the evidence the industry bases its safety claim on, and we found something astonishing. Despite some 200,000 fracked wells, very little data have been collected and few rigorous studies have been done to show whether fracking is safe, or whether it is dangerous. Not by local officials, state officials, universities or federal agencies. Essentially there is a data void on this issue. The type of scientific work that tied lead, tobacco smoke and smog to health problems, or that exonerated vaccines as the cause of autism, has not been done. With its safety claim, the industry is actively misleading the public into believing its practices have been solidly vetted and found untarnished. As we show in our seven part series, this is far from the truth.
  • Arsenic in food

    Consumer Reports revealed that arsenic is present in surprising amounts in common food products such as Minute Maid apple juice, Uncle Ben’s brown rice, organic rice cakes, and even infant rice cereal. Yet there is no federal limit on arsenic in most foods and juices, although there is for drinking water. And while Food and Drug Administration claimed that the arsenic in apple and grape juice is essentially a harmless form, our tests showed otherwise.
  • Fishy Business

    Boston Globe reporters Jenn Abelson and Beth Daley captured the attention of consumers across the nation with their 2011 “Fishy Business” series, which revealed widespread mislabeling of seafood at restaurants. DNA testing commissioned by the Globe showed diners frequently – and unwittingly -- overpaid for less desirable species. In 2012, the Globe produced two more “Fishy Business” installments to expand and follow up on the initial investigation. First, Abelson spent several months examining how fish processors add water to seafood to increase profits. The Globe hired an independent lab to conduct an analysis of 43 fish samples collected from supermarkets across Massachusetts. The results, presented in a multimedia package in September 2012, showed consumers often pay for excess water when they buy scallops and frozen fish. About 1 in 5 of the samples weighed less than what was stated on packages. The testing also showed 66 percent of the fish from one supplier had too much ice. The Globe also wanted to verify restaurants and wholesalers had changed their ways following the newspaper’s 2011 investigation and resulting calls for reform. Daley and Abelson returned to 58 restaurants that served the wrong fish in 2011 to collect new samples. DNA tests showed 76 percent did not match what restaurants advertised on their menus. The resulting third installment of “Fishy Business,” published in December 2012, detailed these findings. In addition, Abelson and Daley explained how accountability is lost in the fish supply chain by investigating a major wholesaler that provided mislabeled fish to some of the region’s best-known restaurants.
  • C-HIT: Toxic Laundry Emissions

    Industrial laundries in New England have recently come under intense scrutiny by the EPA, ever since the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) found that volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were being released at a facility in Waterbury, CT. According to Steve Rapp, Chief of the Air Technical Unit, EPA Region 1, the problem is widespread and significant. “The industrial laundries are grossly under-reporting their VOCs,” said Rapp. “It’s a total sleeper.” The problem stems from the process of laundering shop towels, which are often contaminated with toxic solvents. When improperly cleaned, the solvents are vaporized and emitted to the surrounding air. This article investigated this little-known source of air pollution, shedding light on the industry’s practices and its impact on air quality and public health.
  • Dirty Deeds

    It may be the biggest inside job in Louisiana history: vast expanses of oil and gas-rich land and water bottoms, owned by the state, but handed over to some of Louisiana’s most powerful politicians. The “scheme” uncovered by our investigative team dates back to the 1930s and has generated over a billion adjusted dollars during that time. This comprehensive multi-platform series not only sparked an investigation by Louisiana’s Attorney General, but also informed viewers that this shocking 80 year old deal is still costing an already cash-strapped state tens of millions of dollars each year.
  • Port Authority: Battle at the Waterfront

    This investigation was about lies and obfuscation, and the stakes were enormous: A mayor’s election, a growing media empire and potentially billions of dollars in development. Our reporting revealed how within months of purchasing the largest media operation in San Diego County, the new owners of U-T San Diego were using their power and status to influence -- and even threaten -- government officials into helping them realize lucrative plans for developing the downtown waterfront. It also illuminated an insidious practice suspected nationwide: use of private electronic accounts to conduct the public’s business. Our reporting defined much of the discussion around the mayor’s race in the weeks before the election. In the end, the candidate at the heart of the probed was defeated.
  • Plunder in the Pacific

    "Plunder in the Pacific," an eight-country investigation, revealed how Asian, European and Latin American fleets have devastated what was once one of the world’s great fish stocks. Jack mackerel in the South Pacific has decreased from around 30 million tons to less than three tons in just two decades. We found that national interests and geopolitical rivalry for six years blocked efforts to ratify a regional fisheries management organization that could impose binding regulations to rescue jack mackerel from further collapse. Bound only by voluntary restrictions, fleets competed in what amounted to a free-for-all in no man’s water.
  • Poison in the Water

    “Poison in the Water” is a WNCN investigation that exposes how state government failed to warn families that the water they were drinking could be killing them. Through six weeks of research and digging through hundreds of FOIA documents, WNCN uncovered the source of the contamination in a Wake Forest, N.C. community and revealed state regulators ignored their own evidence of the danger. “Poison in the Water” held the powerful accountable and sparked calls for state legislative change. As a result, national groundwater advocate, Erin Brockovich, visited the Wake Forest families.
  • A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea

    The book tells how the government and BP responded to an emergency unlike anything encountered before in the history of petroleum engineering: a blowout in imle-deep water. The book chronicles the 87-day effort to cap the Macondo well after the explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.