‘What’s that smell?’: WBTV finds out what’s stinking up neighborhoods across local three counties, investigation underway

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:21 PM EST
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INDIAN LAND, S.C. (WBTV) - From parts of Union County all the way to Fort Mill, people living in the neighborhoods are asking “What’s that smell?”

Remember what rotten eggs smell like? That is how these neighborhoods smell right now. WBTV is on your side getting answers.

It is a smell so strong it is almost indescribable.

”My daughter said is that sulfur,” said Justin Francis, who lives in the Legacy Park neighborhood.

”Sour, pungent, sharp distinct smell,” said Bridget Francis, who also lives there.

”Whew what is that? Like it caught me off guard,” said another neighbor.

The smell continues to stink up the Legacy Park neighborhood. It creeps into houses and cars driving down the road with the windows up.

“The whole house smells like gas to the point where you’re worrying what is it exactly?” said Brandon Hafer, who also lives at Legacy Park.

DHEC said the smell is not toxic but a team thinks the paper plant switching from white paper to cardboard could be the stink culprit.

The smell is coming from the New Indy Containerboard paper plant in Catawba - 25 minutes from the Legacy Park neighborhood.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control on Friday said they are actively investigating the odor’s source and is continuing to meet with officials from New Indy, and with officials of nearby wastewater treatment plants.

The also said they’re working with North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality to look into possible odors from wastewater treatment plants across the border.

Citizens are encouraged to:

DHEC did come out and investigate. It says the sulfur dioxide levels in the area have not gone up. A team from the agency came out last week.

”I thought it was coming from like the Lancaster area or Fort Mill somewhere closer to us but Catawba that’s kinda, for the smell to be that strong and potent, that’s very alarming,” said Hafer.

This is not a new smell either. One neighbor remembers living in Lancaster near the Bowater plant where New Indy is today.

”My family when we were growing up found a stray dog that was very sick. He had mange which smelled terrible so we named him Bowater because he smelled so bad when we found him,” said Bridget Francis.

State Senator Michael Johnson teamed up with two other senators, Senator Mike Fanning and Senator Wes Climer, to get rid of the smell.

”We cannot live with that smell long term. No one can. So our goal is to find a way to alleviate the problem while still allowing New Indy to operate,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he plans to get DHEC’s report Thursday when he meets with us.

”The industry and DHEC can work out a solution that allows people to be in their backyards and be in their homes without people being run out by this odor,” said Johnson.

Not a moment too soon for a neighborhood full of people ready for this stench to stop.

”I think we all want to get rid of that smell before we all start coming outside,” said one neighbor.

Johnson hopes DHEC and New Indy can come up with a solution to make this smell less strong. If that does not happen, he is looking into legislation. WBTV will reach out to Johnson for an update about this Thursday.

“DHEC local partners continue to work to resolve this nuisance. DHEC is investigating all concerns and remains committed to providing information to those affected by these odors,” a Friday statement read.

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