New-Indy paper mill says it has reduced foul odor around state line

CATAWBA, S.C. — A paper mill in Catawba claims it has done everything it was asked to do to reduce a rotten egg smell after thousands of complaints along the North Carolina and South Carolina state line.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Environmental Protection Agency ordered New-Indy Containerboard to make changes to eliminate the odor.

New-Indy said it has made changes to keep the smell under control.

Will Ingram, of Lancaster, drives to work in the area and said the smell is more pleasant now.

“I noticed I don’t smell that odor anymore,” Ingram told Channel 9.

The government agencies ordered New-Indy to do things such as making changes to the wastewater treatment system and monitor tanks.

The company said it has done just that, and the Department of Justice recently signed off on it.

The DOJ stated that New-Indy “has been cooperative in complying with the EPA order,” according to court documents.

“I think people in the surrounding area would be happy not to smell that, especially those that live in this area,” Ingram said.

However, not everyone is pleased with these new developments.

A spokesperson for plaintiffs suing New-Indy sent Channel 9 a statement saying in part, “This agreement is just the latest example of the EPA’s failure to put an end to New-Indy’s dangerous emissions or hold them fully accountable.”

Residents who said they are happy the smell is gone still want more information about whether they could see health issues down the road because of what they breathed in for so long.

Last week, Channel 9 reported claims the plant is releasing a toxic chemical into the Catawba River.

The Catawba riverkeeper and a law firm said that data they collected showed groundwater moving through the New-Indy site had been picking up contaminants and carrying them into the river.

They said those contaminants are dioxins, which can cause cancer.

Attorneys for people living near the plant sent a letter threatening a lawsuit over the issue to the plant, and to DHEC.

New-Indy responded and said the accusation was demonstrably false.

The company stated that the facility’s previous owner left small amounts of dioxin on the property, but that New-Indy hasn’t produced dioxin since it took over in 2018.

New Indy officials said they have their own report showing no hazardous level of dioxin was detected in any of its monitoring wells on site.

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Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV