Rock Hill residents file motion to intervene in EPA’s New Indy litigation

ROCK HILL, S.C. — People are fed up with the foul odor coming from South Carolina and many of them have now taken matters into their own hands, asking the company accused of being responsible to stop.

Rock Hill residents filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in the EPA’s litigation against paper company New Indy Catawba.

The filing claims that the EPA’s actions and monitoring of the plant and its emissions are insufficient, and New Indy’s emissions present an “imminent and substantial” threat.

The EPA took action against New Indy after residents complained of a foul stench in the area of the plant.

Harry Redd has lived in south Charlotte for two decades and said when the stench started last spring it became unbearable.

“Imagine just a reprehensible rotten egg smell,” he told Channel 9. “We actually would smell it inside the house and that’s really when it became alarming.”

If granted, residents will ask the District Court of South Carolina to require New Indy to immediately take all measures necessary to comply with the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s outstanding order, and require New Indy to “eliminate its dangerous air emissions,” documents say.

The motion says the monitoring program the EPA is requiring New Indy to implement is not adequately protective in several ways, including:

  • The failure to monitor the three other reduced sulfur compounds besides hydrogen sulfide, substances the motion stated make up as much or more than 90% of New Indy’s emissions
  • Only requiring three fence-line monitors when the facility has a fence-line more than six miles long
  • Only covering 30 square miles of the affected area with community monitoring, when the affected area is at least 265 square miles and at most, 500 square miles
  • Using inconsistent monitoring methodology and equipment.

New Indy claims the smell is from a by-product of converting wood into paper.

The stench impacts tens of thousands of people from Mecklenburg, Union, Chester, Lancaster and York counties.

Neighbors like Redd are looking for accountability from the company, filing to intervene in the EPA’s litigation against New Indy in federal court. The filing claims that New Indy continues to violate emissions standards even after the EPA’s emergency order issued in May.

They’re asking the company to comply with the EPA, reduce or even cease production to stop the smell and also conduct proper monitoring so it doesn’t happen again.

“I just hope, again, that the company really kind of comes to some form of responsibility and acknowledgment of what the issue is and works to resolve it,” Redd said.

The new motion is the latest in the saga for the New Indy plant. Since January, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has received countless complaints about the odor.

New Indy said it is working to clean up production and eliminate the smell.

Lawmakers in South Carolina said they are also looking into possible changes to state law to ensure this doesn’t keep happening.

(WATCH BELOW: Federal injunction filed against paper mill blamed for stench near state line)