Brooke Williams

NECIR reporter wins prestigious journalism award

Congratulations to NECIR senior investigative reporter and senior trainer Brooke Williams, who won a 2015 Gerald Loeb Award alongside Eric Lipton, Ben Protess and Nicholas Confessore for their New York Times investigation “Lobbying in America.” Their report and database revealed the way foreign governments contribute to influential think tanks here in the United States. The Gerald Loeb award is one of journalism’s highest honors, and Brooke and her co-reporters took home the prize for Best Beat Reporting.

Grafton and Upton Railroad workers set about righting the derailed train and its cargo.

Small Derailment Fuels Bigger Fears around Grafton Propane Facility

A train run by the Grafton and Upton Railroad derailed in the town of Grafton, Mass. on Tuesday night while crossing through the town’s center. The derailment came just minutes before a town meeting in which the railroad’s owner, Jon Delli Priscoli, was scheduled to address a public audience over concerns related to the expansion in recent years of the railroad’s activity.

No one was injured, the train remained fully upright and Doug Pizzi, a spokesman for the railroad, says the incident was a minor one and caused no damage to the track. (It did damage at least some public roadway). But the incident loomed much larger than its component facts for many of Grafton’s residents.

plumisland

How federally subsidized flood insurance can artificially increase the value of risky homes

With storms getting bigger and sea levels rising, why do people keep rebuilding along the coast? University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor Chad McGuire and his colleagues analyzed more than 57,000 Massachusetts properties insured by the federally backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to answer that very question. What they found will surprise you.

Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey

Healey backs new law protecting homeowners from tax lien sales

A representative from Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey's office testified Tuesday in favor of a bill meant to protect elderly and disabled residents who are struggling to pay past due municipal taxes. The legislation – “An Act Relative to the Improvement in the Process for Collecting Delinquent Property Taxes” – was discussed Tuesday morning in the state Joint Committee on Revenue.

A Medway youth soccer player's sock collects particles of crumb rubber from the Medway High School synthetic turf field. The ant-size pellets act as artificial dirt for the artificial grass and they become ubiquitous in the lives of families whose kids play on artificial fields – getting into athletic bags, inside shoes, and ultimately in every mom's laundry room.

Toxic turf? Momentum grows against synthetic turf

Increasingly, Bay State towns – like many places nationwide – are debating costly plans to build new, or refurbish old, artificial turf fields, and sports enthusiasts who love the vivid-green fields for their durability and easy maintenance are bracing for new opposition from parents of budding soccer, lacrosse and football players about the safety of crumb rubber pellets.

A UTLX tank car passes westbound through Rochelle Railroad Park in Rochelle, Illinois on May 29, 2005.

New rules for ‘oil trains’ fall short of recommendations

The Department of Transportation announced today a long-awaited set of new regulations for trains carrying petroleum crude oil, ethanol, and other flammable liquids in the United States. But the rules, the first of which go into effect this October, fall short – significantly short, in some cases – of calls for greater safety measures by environmental and watchdog groups, as well as other agencies within the government. They also, in some cases, fail to address design flaws in train components linked to spills and leaks in major accidents as well as hundreds of minor incidents reviewed by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and WGBH-News.

Brooke Williams

Award-winning reporter Brooke Williams joins NECIR

Award-winning reporter Brooke Williams, an investigative journalist specializing in data-driven reporting and storytelling to hold the powerful accountable, is joining the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) as a senior investigative reporter and senior trainer. Her investigations have been featured in local and national newspapers, magazines and online publications, as well as on radio and television.