EXPOSÉ: America's Investigative Reports
EXPOSÉ 2008 Season
The Blog É-Tools About the Series Watch Online
Introduction Audio Slide Show Watch the Episode CIR Blogger Notes Carl Prine Interview Web Resources
Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 2)

In 2006, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Carl Prine resumed his investigations of chemical safety in the United States, this time focusing on the nation's railroad transportation system. Prine discovered that trains loaded with toxic and explosive chemicals pass through major metropolitan areas with inadequate or no security, and in some areas present a target extremely vulnerable to terrorist attack. During his investigation, Prine visited Seattle, Tacoma, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, San Francisco's Bay Area, and parts of New Jersey. EXPOSÉ returns with Prine to Las Vegas and other locales, where he demonstrates just how easy it is to access the rail cars carrying potentially lethal chemicals. EXPOSÉ also speaks with Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) who discusses the rail security bill inspired by Prine's reporting.

Read Carl Prine's original reporting:
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:Terror on the Tracks

Emergency workers in self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in Graniteville, South Carolina, an open gate to a Bay Area resin and polymer manufacturer, rail cars carrying chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide, train tanker carrying hazardous chlorine gas

(l to r) Emergency workers in self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in Graniteville, South Carolina, after two trains collided in 2005, unleashing toxic chlorine gas. An open gate to a Bay Area resin and polymer manufacturer in Fairfield, California, site of Prine's most recent rail investigation. The plant had received a security defect in 2004 from the Federal Railroad Administration for failing to adequately plan against a terrorist intrusion. Prine's card on a placard of a string of rail cars carrying chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide in Las Vegas. Train tanker carrying hazardous chlorine gas passes near the capitol, March 2004. Credits: State of South Carolina, Carl Prine, Carl Prine, Jim Dougherty/Sierra Club

The Facts
Prine joined the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's special projects team in 2000, working on stories ranging from unsolved local murders to gender equity in sports programs. Prine is a former U.S. Marine with expertise in chemical and biological warfare. In 2005, Prine left reporting to join the Pennsylvania National Guard and spent nine months fighting in Iraq. In 2006, Prine returned to reporting, continuing his investigations into chemical security.

Prine had only been home a few weeks from Iraq when he returned to the chemical security beat, this time examining the security of America's rail lines. Having witnessed firsthand an IED take apart an armored vehicle, Prine believed that rail cars laden with toxic chemicals like anhydrous ammonia and chlorine -- trains traveling right through the heart of major American cities -- could be effectively used as weapons by terrorists.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Prine gained access to reports from the Federal Railroad Administration, a little known federal agency that had identified hundreds of sites with security defects. Using FRA deficiency reports to map his way, Prine hit the road. But he felt he needed a symbol to communicate to his readers the urgency of what he was writing about. As he visited vulnerable trains, he left his business card, asking readers to imagine if it were a bomb. In the course of his six-month investigation, Prine provocatively left his business card on chemical rail cars in Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and various places in New Jersey.

This Week's Episode
Watch Online
Watch the entire episode of Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 2) online.
Carl Prine undercover as a construction worker
Carl and Deanna Prine