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Neighbors near paper mill hope changes by EPA will improve bad smell

CATAWBA, S.C. — A stinky smell coming from a paper mill near the state line is less powerful than it was before, according to residents in the area.

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Neighbors told Channel 9 that the smell, coming from the New Indy Catawba, was unbearable for some, and even worse on rainy days.

“It smelled like a combination of rotten eggs and manure,” resident Susie Worley said.

Worley said she was forced to live with the smell for years.

The odor, created as a byproduct of converting wood into paper, was so powerful that residents in York, Lancaster, Union and Mecklenburg Counties said they could smell it.

However, some neighbor said the odor has decreased since the EPA issued an emergency order in May demanding the company reducing hydrogen sulfide air pollution from the plant.

“Money talks and the squeaky wheel gets the oil. They wound up slowly doing something about it, it became less frequent,” Worley said.

In December, the EPA announced a new $1.1 million fine against the company, as well as a newly proposed settlement that would impose “mandatory long-term improvements designed to ensure cleaner air.”

“What we’re saying is this is just the beginning,” Worley added.

South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman told Channel 9 that he recently met with the EPA and visited the facility.

“We went around and saw the progress they’ve made. The dredging, they’ve stayed on it,” Worley said. “Is it perfect? Probably not, but it’s a step in the right direction. The main thing, we’re going to stay on top of it.”

Worley said there has been a 50% decrease in the smell and she hopes the new settlement will help knock it out completely.

“Care about the community, because we’re here too.” Worley said. “I know they’re there for the money, but we live here too.”

Channel 9′s Tina Terry reports that the EPA has been taking public comment on the proposed settlement, and public comment on the matter next Wednesday.

(WATCH BELOW: EPA to host public hearing on new rules for SC paper mill)

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