Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Regional News 9/15


Rising sea level drowning Lowcountry marshes

A Boston University study conducted in South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge has confirmed concerns in the scientific community that rising sea levels are flooding tidal marsh habitats faster than they may be able to recover.

Horsehead Creek near Cape Island, the Charleston Post and Courier reports, is suffering from a condition called rapid headward erosion, a process in which sediment and its grasses are disappearing, with the bare spots filled in with creek, not marsh.

Tidal marshes act as nurseries and hunting grounds for a myriad of marine animals, including shrimp. They also act as natural water filters. There are around 400,000 acres of coastal marsh in South Carolina, and many consider them a defining characteristic of the Lowcountry. The federal EPA has estimated that the sea level is rising at about a foot per century on the Atlantic Coast.

“There are signs, for sure, the marsh is having a hard time keeping up with sea level rise in this day and age,” Dennis Allen, lab director at the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, told the Post and Courier. Allen pointed out that Horsehead Creek is a straight-away creek, which is uncommon in coastal marshes, and said he wasn’t sure if the study’s findings would apply to other areas of the coast. But, he said in the report, “it’s good, solid science that demonstrates these particular systems are struggling.”


Confiscated drug money reportedly missing from Cherokee Co. Sheriff’s Dept.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is looking into confiscated drug money that appears to be missing from the Cherokee County narcotics division.

Sheriff Bill Blanton told the Spartanburg Herald Journal that money confiscated during drug raids is logged before being deposited into particular bank accounts. Money from a recent raid isn’t accounted for, according to the report.

“If someone took it, we want to know that,” he told the Herald Journal. “And if it’s in another account or something, we want to know that, too, so we can correct it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Blanton said this is an isolated incident, that no drugs are missing, and that he wanted SLED’s involvement from the “ground up.”


Hog farmer has weird day

A hog farmer told Orangeburg County Sheriff’s deputies that a man walked on his property, inquired about a hogs for sale and then stabbed him with a long needle before fleeing the scene.

According to the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, the farmer was slopping his hogs around 7 a.m. when a man pulled up in a light blue Chevrolet. The man asked if any hogs were for sale and when the farmer said no, he reportedly pulled a brown bag from his pocket. The farmer said a needle was protruding from the bag. The man then stabbed the farmer in the stomach with the needle and fled.

The farmer was taken to the hospital complaining of severe pains in his right leg, though physicians said they could find no visible marks on him.


U.S. Postal Service: Beware of imposter postal workers

Following the recent theft of six post office uniforms in Rock Hill last weekend, the U.S. Postal Inspectors issued a press release warning citizens to be on the lookout for imposters.

According to the release, someone broke into storage units belonging to a postal worker and stole the uniforms and one official jacket.

“Both postal employees and customers should be aware and call local authorities if someone acts suspiciously,” Postal Inspection Service Public Information Officer Justin Crooks said. “Anyone who is suspicious of a Postal employee should ask for a U. S. Postal Service picture ID. If the person cannot produce identification, you should notify authorities.”


Grease pirates commandeering prime dump vats

A breed of bandit the Charleston Post and Courier recently described as “back-alley grease pirates” are, according to the report, wreaking mild havoc with legitimate grease collectors in the greater Charleston area.

Contractors set up agreements with area restaurants and supermarkets to collect spent grease to recycle into biofuels or to convert into flavoring for the livestock feed industry. But, grease pirates have been beating them to the punch, causing as much as a 40 percent drop in volume, according to one company.

“We have seen a serious drop in the volume of grease we collect at restaurants,” Steve Wilkerson, a Carolina By-Products consultant, told the Post and Courier. “We are missing a lot of grease. Somebody is beating us to it.”

According to the report, Tres Dausey, the former owner of a grease recycling business, recently noticed a bandit siphoning grease from a Summerville business. When Dausey confronted the man, he reportedly yanked his tube from the vat and fled in a truck with no license plate.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it was a grease thief,” Dausey told the Post and Courier.

Wilkerson said he suspects the pirates are collecting it to either sell or brew into biodiesel fuel at their home compounds.

“They are not going to pick it up and sit on it,” Dausey said in the report. “They have a deal worked out with somebody.”

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