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" ...

  • The Real Death Valley

    Over the past five years, the remains of more than 400 migrants have been recovered in in rural Brooks County, Texas, some 70 miles north of the Mexico border. Yet no news organization had investigated why these deaths were occurring. Our investigation showed that stepped up border enforcement, interior border checkpoints, a lack of federal funds to support local law enforcement, inadequate emergency water supplies, and inadequate 911 emergency response by the U.S. Border Patrol contributed to this dramatic spike in deaths in what has become one of the deadliest migrant corridors in the American Southwest.
  • A death in restraints after ‘standard procedure’

    The series revealed the needless deaths of three mental health patients at Bridgewater State Hospital, a medium-security state prison for men who have come in contact with the criminal justice system, due to the use of four-point restraints. The series also raised questions about the decision by a district attorney to not pursue criminal charges in one of those deaths, even though it was ruled a homicide. In addition, the series exposed the systemic, illegal use of isolation and four-point restraints -- strapping a patient’s wrists and ankles to a bed -- at a time when officials at similar institutions in other states were sharply reducing their reliance on these tactics, finding that they are physically dangerous and psychologically harmful.
  • 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.
  • FEMA's Fickle Flood Maps

    We've read for years now about anger at the high costs to property owners of changes to FEMA's flood maps, but we hadn't read this before: As homeowners around the nation protest skyrocketing premiums for federal flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has quietly moved the lines on its flood maps to benefit hundreds of oceanfront condo buildings and million-dollar homes, according to an analysis of federal records by NBC News. Reporters Bill Dedman and Miranda Leitsinger produced a three-part series showing that FEMA had approved those revisions -- removing more than 500 waterfront properties from the highest-risk flood zone and saving the owners as much as 97 percent on the premiums they pay into the financially strained National Flood Insurance Program – even as owners of homes and businesses far from a water source were being added to the maps asked to pay far more for their coverage.
  • American Catch

    In American Catch, award-winning author Paul Greenberg takes the same skills that won him acclaim in Four Fish to uncover the tragic unraveling of the nation’s seafood supply—telling the surprising story of why Americans stopped eating from their own waters. In 2005, the United States imported five billion pounds of seafood, nearly double what we imported twenty years earlier. Bizarrely, during that same period, our seafood exports quadrupled. American Catch examines New York oysters, Gulf shrimp, and Alaskan salmon to reveal how it came to be that 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat is foreign. Despite the challenges, hope abounds. In New York, Greenberg connects an oyster restoration project with a vision for how the bivalves might save the city from rising tides. In the Gulf, shrimpers band together to offer local catch direct to consumers. And in Bristol Bay, fishermen, environmentalists, and local Alaskans gather to roadblock Pebble Mine. With American Catch, Paul Greenberg proposes a way to break the current destructive patterns of consumption and return American catch back to American eaters.
  • The Politics of Poison

    Arsenic is consumed by people in small amounts in the food we eat and the water we drink. EPA scientists concluded that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic each day 730 of them eventually would get lung or bladder cancer. The investigation found that a single paragraph inserted into a committee report by a member of Congress essentially ordered the EPA to halt its investigation of arsenic, or make public its arsenic findings, an action that could trigger stricter drinking water standards. A lobbyist for two pesticide companies acknowledged that he was among those who asked for the delay. As a direct result of the delay a week killer the EPA was going to ban at the end of 2013 remains on the market.
  • Building debt: $2 billion in bonds approved in districts formed by developers

    The story is about a series of obscure government agencies that are quietly building up more than $2 billion in debt in Denton County, Texas. The county ranks fifth among Texas counties with 62 and first in North Texas of the little-known special water districts, a type of government entity used by developers to finance infrastructure for residential and commercial developments. The story reveals how the districts debt and numbers proliferated after the state decided to halt related investigation and they deemed the investigations a waste of government resources.
  • Water's Edge--The crisis of rising sea levels

    Few subjects in the news stir as much controversy as climate change. In the U.S., the threat of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the contribution of human activity to that threat, and even whether the climate is changing at all are fiercely debated and politically polarizing. Inconclusive science only further polarizes the issue. Lost in all the vitriol is one aspect of a changing environment that is not debatable: rising seas. Tidal waters worldwide have climbed an average of 8 inches over the past century. Yet the volume of journalism documenting rising seas as an immediate, observable phenomenon has been scant; more typically, news media have relied on extrapolations and predictions to create frightening scenarios far in the future. Reuters set out to change that in its series “Water’s Edge: the Crisis of Rising Sea Levels.” For this yearlong project, Reuters did its own science. We collected and analyzed vast stores of hard data and combined the results with on-the-ground reporting to produce stories unique in their treatment of rising seas not as a future threat, but as a troubling reality for millions of people living along the U.S. coast.
  • “China’s Real Estate Mogul” and “China’s Real Estate Bubble”

    This two-part report peers into China’s opaque economy through the windows of its gleaming new skyscrapers to reveal seemingly polar realities. On one hand, we look at the promise of the “new China” by profiling commercial real estate developer Zhang Xin, whose journey from a Maoist reeducation camp and sweatshops to becoming one of the richest women on earth is a metaphor of China’s rise from the backwaters of Communism to, as some put it, “Capitalism on steroids.” It’s the American dream lived out in Beijing. Xin’s buildings are modern shrines to Capitalism and globalism – statements of how China is opening up to Western ideas. But with financial gain comes a yearning for more. In a surprising moment, Xin publicly challenged her country’s leaders on our air, saying the current political system inevitably must be replaced by democracy: a rare and brave statement to make in such a forum.
  • Money Where Your Mouth Is - Portland's Fluoride Fight

    It would be May of 2013 when Portland residents were asked to decide an issue most major metropolitan areas had decided back in the ‘50s – should we add fluoride to the city’s drinking water supply? Determined to go beyond campaign sound bites, KATU Consumer Investigator Shellie Bailey-Shah sought to uncover scientific proof - either supporting or disputing the argument that fluoridated water would lead to fewer cavities in children. Crunching the state of Oregon’s raw data in more logical ways than the state itself had ever considered, Bailey-Shah provided voters with hyper-local evidence that fluoride would not, in fact, improve their children’s dental health. Moreover, Bailey-Shah revealed how the state – a strong political and financial supporter of the community fluoridation campaign – stonewalled efforts to bring these new revelations to light.