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Jun 28, 2014

Pilot 3: The arsenic in our drinking water

Co-produced with PRX Logo

In this episode: We dive into the U.S. Coast Guard’s accident problem; arsenic in your water; the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs; and the high cost of a GI Bill degree.

003 Segment 1

Jun 28, 2014

The Coast Guard’s deadly accidents

A Defender class Coast Guard vessel checks on a fishing boat run aground at Cape Disappointment near the Oregon-Washington state line.
Credit: Ben Adair for CIR

The U.S. Coast Guard – the fifth branch of the military – has suffered a string of potentially avoidable and sometimes deadly accidents, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment damage, lawsuits from civilians and internal investigations that have questioned safety procedures.

G.W. Schulz examines the safety record of the Coast Guard dating back to 2000 and finds lapses in judgment and missed opportunities to strengthen safety standards to protect crew members and civilians.

Our investigation introduces us to a Coast Guard pilot whose helicopter ran into transmission wires that weren’t properly marked. We also talk with the family of a Coast Guard member who died as a result of a risky boating maneuver. And we speak to the former commandant of the Coast Guard about the service’s safety record.

Dig Deeper

  • Read the full story here.

003 Segment 2

Jun 28, 2014


The Center for Public Integrity The Center for Public Integrity

The politics of poison

Wendy Brennan, seen with her granddaughter, took part in a study that found arsenic levels in her well water that were higher than federal standards.
Credit: Amy Temple for CIR

Arsenic is nearly synonymous with poison. But most people don’t realize that they consume small amounts of it in the food they eat and the water they drink.

Recent research suggests even small levels of arsenic may be harmful. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been prepared to say since 2008 that arsenic is 17 times more toxic as a carcinogen than the agency now reports.

Women are especially vulnerable. EPA scientists have 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 EPA, however, hasn’t been able to make its findings official, an action that could trigger stricter drinking water standards. The roadblock: a single paragraph inserted into a committee report by a member of Congress, an investigation by David Heath from The Center for Public Integrity found. The paragraph essentially ordered the EPA to halt its evaluation of arsenic and hand over its work to the National Academy of Sciences.

Dig Deeper

  • Read the full investigation here.

003 Segment 3

Jun 28, 2014


St. Louis Public Radio St. Louis Public Radio

Secrecy behind Missouri’s execution drugs

Missouri is one of several states that buy their drugs for executions in secret. Above is the death chamber at the Missouri Correctional Center.
Credit: Associated Press

Missouri is one of several states that are buying their drugs for executions in secret.

Last year, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra uncovered the identity of the state’s then-supplier, a pharmacy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that wasn’t licensed to sell drugs in Missouri. They also found that a top corrections official paid the pharmacy in cash – $11,000 per execution.

Since the initial investigation, the state has become even more secretive. McDaniel has sued the state for withholding records.

Dig Deeper

  • Learn more on St. Louis Public Radio’s website.

003 Segment 4

Jun 28, 2014

Profiting off the GI Bill

The post-World War II GI Bill of 1944 was a hugely successful government program that helped millions of returning veterans get a college education.

Under the expanded GI Bill passed in 2008, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have their college tuition paid for, up to $19,000 a year. But instead of giving veterans a launching pad to a civilian career, for-profit schools are making billions in GI Bill money and leaving veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, according to an investigation by Aaron Glantz.

Dig Deeper

  • Read the full story here.


Host: Al Letson
Executive Producers: Ben Adair, Susanne Reber
Senior Producer: Mia Zuckerkandel
Editors: Jim Morris, Amy Pyle, Robert Salladay, Mark Katches
Producers: Ben Adair, Michael Montgomery, Adithya Sambamurthy, Mia Zuckerkandel
Reporters: Aaron Glantz, David Heath, Véronique LaCapra, Chris McDaniel, G.W. Schulz, Rebecca Williams
Production Assistance: Allegra Bandy
Mix Engineer: Jim Briggs Jaena Rae Cabrera, Nikki Frick, Sheela Kamath, Christine Lee, Sam Ward
Senior Management for PRX: Jake Shapiro, John Barth, Kerri Hoffman
Senior Management for CIR: Robert J. Rosenthal, Mark Katches, Joaquin Alvarado, Susanne Reber, Christa Scharfenberg
Promo Narration: Peter Coyote
Director of Distribution and Engagement: Meghann Farnsworth
Distribution and Engagement Manager: Cole Goins
News Engagement Specialist: Kelly Chen
Communications Manager: Julia B. Chan

"Reveal" is a co-production of The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. It was co-created by Ben Adair, Susanne Reber, Joaquin Alvarado, John Barth and Kerri Hoffman.

Special thanks to The Center for Public Integrity; Michigan Radio; St. Louis Public Radio; KUT in Austin, Texas; WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida; and “State of the Re:Union.”