Charleston Harbor, circa 1866-1900Aug. 13, 1861: Shortly after the start of the Civil War, the Union Army launches the “Stone Fleet” with the purchase of a fishing schooner, the Sarah M. Kemp. Over the next three months, the North purchases about 40 ships – more than half are New Bedford whaling vessels. The ships are loaded with stone or sand ballast and sunk at the entrances to Charleston, Savannah and other Confederate harbors to block shipping. At right, tradeships in Charleston Harbor.

Aug. 13, 1955: Following on the heels of Hurricane Connie, Hurricane Diane lashes the U.S. East Coast with record rainfall. The storms kill 200, and Trenton, N.J., is inundated. The floods boost for political support for the Tocks Island Dam, proposed as a flood control measure. The dam’s 40-mile-long reservoir would also wipe out several small towns along the Delaware River. The dam is never built in the face of strong public opposition.

Aug. 13, 2007: After intense pressure from the chemical industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removes Dr. Deborah Rice as chair of a panel examining the risks from fire retardant chemicals. Rice heads the state of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and is a widely respected toxicologist, but the American Chemistry Council says her leadership of the panel creates “the appearance of bias.”

Photo: National Park Service

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.