In preparation for his investigation of America’s most dangerous chemical sites, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Carl Prine used “worst case scenario” plans prepared by chemical company officials. The plans, filed with the Environmental Protection Agency and county governments, mapped out known security weaknesses at each plant. Using the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Prine began collecting the plans from the EPA. Then he hit a roadblock: he was told an EPA rule limited his access to plans only from his own county, plus 10 other plans per month. This wouldn’t do. He was casing out hundreds of facilities — in his home state of Pennsylvania and others, including Maryland, Illinois, and Texas. After he maxed out his EPA limit, he was able to get some plans directly from county agencies using state open records laws. But to get plans from other states, Prine went back to the EPA — with a new strategy to get around the 10-plan limit. He hired a secretary in Washington, D.C. to accompany him to EPA headquarters on the first and last days of two months — April 30 and May 1 — and together they were able to request the 32 documents that he needed.
>> Visit the EXPOSÉ website to learn more about Prine’s reporting.
>> Watch the full episode about Prine online: “Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 1)”
>> Read “Forty-Odd Years of Freedom … Sort of” by Tom Casciato, Exposé’s Executive Producer.