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Confusion over new SC metal law causing problems

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

TRENTON, S.C. -- South Carolina's new metal transport law has been in effect for just five days, but there's already confusion.

Gary Merriweather went to Brewer's Scrap Yard this morning to sell his wheels.

"I had some aluminum alloy wheels. I said I'll take them in to see what I can get for them," he said.

He couldn't get anything for them at first because he didn't have a permit allowing him to sell his aluminum, so he went to the sheriff's office and came back later.

"I didn't know about the non-ferrous metal requirements that had been just established by the state," Merriweather said.

He's not the only one. The phone at Brewer's Scrap Yard has been ringing a lot lately with sellers who either don't know they need a permit or don't know what metals the permit is for.

"I just don't think that they understand that there's a difference between your regular scrap metal and your non ferrous metal," said Mary Padgett, who helps run Brewer's.

There is a difference. We call the new law the copper law, but you also need a permit for catalytic converters, aluminum, radiators, car batteries and even brass.

There's a quick test you can use on your metals to see whether or not you'd need a permit to sell it.

"If a magnet doesn't stick to it, then it's mostly non-ferrous," Padgett said.

So if a magnet doesn't stick, you need a permit. If it sticks, "You're usually fine," Padgett said.

She said it would be even easier to clear up the confusion if the new law was more detailed.

"I just wish that it would have been more listed as copper," she said. "Copper and catalytic converters because that's been the main problem we've had."

There are a few other things to note with the new law. If you register your car as the car to transport metal, then you have to use that car. You can't use your spouse's car.

Also, if the permit is in your name, then you have to be the one hauling the metal. You can get a permit for both if you want your spouse to help you carry the metal.

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