Here’s what South Carolina doesn’t want the public to know about firing squads and executions

My investigation showed for the first time that shortly before state lawmakers approved the firing squad in May, the SC Department of Corrections created confidentiality agreements to suppress information from over 100 employees they said were members of the execution team. Meanwhile, additional documents I revealed showed that the state spent $53,000 on firing squad preparations, but won't reveal the names of vendors or fully describe some items they bought. And they won't provide their execution protocols at all, though most other states consider that public information. The state's secrecy around executions violates state law, media attorneys agree. It could also be a human rights violation.

State reporter earns a top spot in national competition for science-related coverage

My investigative reporting for WIRED, Scientific American and The State earned second place in the 2021 Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, a national competition for young science journalists. “Eisner’s investigation on the industrial exploitation of horseshoe crabs is a model of dogged reporting,” the Council for the Association of Science Writers wrote in the announcement of my Honorable Mention. “She won accolades for challenging a powerful company that other journalists have had trouble penetrating.”

Americans Took Prevagen for Years—as the FDA Questioned Its Safety

My investigation for WIRED showed that for years, officials at the FDA questioned the basis for the claims made by the company that manufactures Prevagen, a popular supplement for brain health. Multiple FDA inspections, most of which had not been reported before, found significant issues with the manufacturing processes, complaint handling, and the quality control testing that was supposed to ensure the products were safe. And thousands of Americans have reported experiencing “adverse events” while taking Prevagen, including seizures, strokes, heart arrhythmias, chest pain, and dizziness, my reporting exposed.

When People with Intellectual Disabilities Are Punished, Parents Pay the Price

A sex offense conviction can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But when the convicted is someone with an intellectual disability, who can’t understand and comply with the rules and restrictions of their sentences, it falls on the guardians to suffer the financial, social and psychological burdens of the crimes. I reported the story for The Marshall Project, and shot the photography.
Ariane Mueller

Vaccine testing is changing. Why is this $13B lab still bleeding SC horseshoe crabs?

Horseshoe crabs are at least 445 million years old and grow larger in South Carolina than almost anywhere else in America. Since their blue blood can expertly detect a potentially deadly bacterial toxin, for decades, they’ve been bled to help develop safe vaccines. But the process that can harm the animals is no longer needed, some scientists say. And the company that still bleeds the animals in the state, Charles River Laboratories, has for years presented information to the public that experts say has been misleading and sometimes inaccurate, my investigation for The State Media Co. showed.

‘The refuge is closed’: Permits to be required for Cape Romain horseshoe crab harvest

For decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed fishermen working for pharmaceutical companies to harvest horseshoe crabs from the beaches and salt marshes that make up South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge without first conducting a review of how the harvest may be damaging wildlife, or requiring that fishermen apply for permits from the federal government. But after a lawsuit challenged the practice and my investigation revealed the company responsible knew some of its harvesting there was illegal for years, the federal agency announced it would close the refuge to commercial activity in August.

Company accused of polluting ocean with plastic has an ally: SC ports

Never-before-seen documents I reported here for the first time revealed leadership at the Ports Authority had been helping shield a notable plastics company and its business supplier from scrutiny, despite internally noting that the company was responsible for plastic spilling into the harbor. And in emails exchanged in private, leaders of both organizations sometimes seemed to dismiss ecological concerns or public accountability, the investigation revealed.

Large Methane Leaks Reveal Long-Standing Shortfalls in Oversight

For years, oil and gas companies have been required to detect and repair methane leaks in their equipment. But scientists have produced dozens of studies over the past decade that suggest the current methods and technology used by industry to detect leaks—and by regulators to estimate how much methane is emitted—are inadequate to catch the actual scale of the problem, as my story for Scientific American shows.
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