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S.C. state senator wants to keep companies like New Indy from increasing emissions due to rotten odor dilemma

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A South Carolina state senator wants to keep certain companies from increasing emissions as a rotten odor dilemma that has impacted several counties over the past four months.

WBTV viewers have been smelling that awful rotten egg smell in their homes and cars, but the paper mill being blamed for the nasty smell in the Lancaster County area says it is not responsible.

The state’s environmental agency’s report said the smell came from New Indy Containerboard and asked the company to send a report on how they would fix it, but the company came back and said the smell is not coming from them.

It is a 134-page report from a company called Weston Solutions, a company out of Alabama that tests odors.

On Wednesday, South Carolina State Senator Michael Johnson says he introduced a budget proviso that would keep facilities, like New Indy, from increasing emissions.

The increase in H2S emissions is what DHEC believes is causing the smell. That proviso was adopted in the Senate.

Senator Johnson and SCDHEC confirmed that New Indy asked for a permit to increase its emissions by almost 50 percent on April 7.

The request for a fast track was denied because of the investigation into the foul smell. However, DHEC still has to review the permit request.

The permit request was two days before DHEC’s investigative report said New Indy was the culprit of the smell. New Indy continues to deny that.

Chris Lyko decided to work outside his home Wednesday. It is not something he has done in a while since smelling the rotten egg smell that has been hitting his neighborhood.

”It’s very inconvenient for the people living here. We can’t just pack up and move. They got to do something about it,” said Lyko.

The “they” Lyko was referring to was supposedly New Indy Containerboard, a paper mill 15 miles away from his neighborhood.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) report pinned the smell to that company.

”People are complaining,” Lyko said. “It’s an issue that has to be fixed.”

However, New Indy is washing its hands of the smell.

The long report, available here, shows all of the testing from Weston.

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

In a summary of the report sent to Myra Reece, director of environmental affairs, the company vice president of manufacturing says, “As the testing report indicates, Weston Solutions did not detect those compounds in any meaningful concentration that would equate to intense odors.”

However, WBTV took a look at the state’s report versus Weston’s, which shows a few differences.

DHEC, which released its report on April 9, tested New Indy five times on different days.

Those days were February 22 and 23, March 8, 15 and 19.

A team tested the air near the plant, but also tested wastewater treatments and landfills in the area.

DHEC found no issues or violations that could contribute to the odor at any of the wastewater treatments.

The report explains the team tested landfills because wet drywall can be found within landfills.

None of the seven landfills tested had an odor, according to DHEC even when one had drywall on the land.

DHEC did testing on ten days within three months of all of those different places.

The team only visited most places once, except for New Indy.

Those places are:

  • New Indy Catawba, LLC
  • Wikoff Color Corporation, 1886 Merritt Road, Fort Mill
  • InChem, 800 Celriver Road, Rock Hill
  • Lancaster County Catawba River, 1150 Lockwood Lane, Indian Land
  • Country Oaks, 5056 Country Oaks Drive, Rock Hill
  • Shandon WWTP, 3090 Shandon Road, Rock Hill
  • Lancaster County, Indian Land WWTP, 7864 River Road, Indian Land
  • Lancaster County Water and Sewer District
  • City of Rock Hill Manchester Creek
  • Tega Cay
  • Fort Mill WWTF
  • Carowood Subdivision
  • Foxwood Subdivision
  • Rock Hill Manchester Creek
  • CWS Inc. of NC Lamplighter Village South
  • Mining Road Industrial, 2524 Mineral Mining Road, Kershaw
  • Coltharp C&D and LCD Landfill, 2425 Coltharp Rd., Fort Mill
  • York County C&D and LCD Landfill, 289 Public Works Rd., York
  • Rogers C&D Landfill, 2752 Oak Park Road, Rock Hill
  • Creekside, 2762 Anderson Rd. South
  • Pressley’s, 9531 Charlotte Hwy, Fort Mill

Weston tested New Indy six times on six different days, which were between March 16 through 18 and 23 to 25.

The six days were within two weeks. A team did tests on different parts of the paper mill’s lands to try to account for winds and other weather-related factors.

Weston also only tested off-site in Rock Hill, Waxhaw and Indian Land on two days.

Its report says a team visited a gas station in Rock Hill on Monday, March 22, its only stop.

The team went to a Waxhaw Food Lion and Drawbridge Drive in Indian Land on Wednesday, March 24th.

According to DHEC’s complaint map, the rotten egg smell can be smelled from Chester County all the way up to the Ballantyne/Pineville area.

Pineville is about 20 miles away from New Indy paper mill.

DHEC says they get different reports based on how the wind goes.

On the two days, Weston says odors from a fire and a sewer were the only smells detected. It did not detect any odors in Waxhaw that day.

When WBTV asked DHEC about the results, a spokesperson said “The agency is performing a detailed review of the...report submitted by New Indy...”

For the people like Lyko living with it, the back and forth is tiring.

”Four months is long enough,” said Lyko.

DHEC plans to respond to the company’s own test results. There is no timeframe when that will come out, but WBTV will continue looking for that and report on it when it does.

New Indy says it is continuing to investigate the mill.

DHEC is also continuing its investigation on the odor and asks people to keep submitting odor reports to the state.

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