S.C. health officials tell New Indy to revise plan addressing odor due to unmet requirements

Health leaders have instructed New Indy to revise the plan to ensure it meets the requirements of the order.
Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 4:24 PM EDT
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(WBTV) - South Carolina health officials are telling a paper mill to fix their plan addressing a lingering odor since it didn’t meet the necessary requirements.

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, New Indy Plant submitted its Corrective Action Plan (CAP) on June 15.

Despite this, health leaders have instructed New Indy to revise the plan to ensure it meets the requirements of the order. Once it is finalized, it will be posted to the DHEC web page.

“DHEC understands the impact this issue has had in York, Lancaster, and surrounding counties and is committed to continuing working with New Indy to reduce offsite impacts,” a statement from DHEC read.

The corrective action plan requires New Indy to come up with a schedule for actions that will help address and correct the odor and any operational issues contributing to it. It also requires the company to evaluate its wastewater treatment plant.

Lawsuits have been piling up against New Indy Plant and the wretched smell is still a big talker among several counties. Lawyers who recently fired a third class-action lawsuit against New Indy hosted a town hall Wednesday to answer questions about the stench.

They were joined by health, engineering, and environmental experts.

DHEC says New Indy is responsible for a rotten egg odor that can be smelled from Union County all the way to Fort Mill.

The team said they wanted to bring these experts in to show just how bad the stink and pollution has gotten in the area.

They are also hoping this town hall helps recruit people to join their suit.

The suit calls for a judge to shut down New Indy Containerboard’s Catawba mill until the company can stop the stink.

Lawsuits against the plant started piling in May and June.

Betty Rankin, who lives in Rock Hill, says she uses a gas mask inside and outside just to keep the smell away from her.

“This past week has been one of the worst weeks in my life,” Rankin said.

Rankin lives in Rock Hill, miles away from New Indy Containerboard, but she calls the smell coming from the mill an attack.

“It’s like living in a warzone,” Rankin said. “You don’t know when the attack is coming you just know it’s coming.

Her only gear in battle is a gas mask she keeps by her bed.

“It’s just impacted me physically, emotionally, and mentally,” she said. “And part of it is a helpless feeling.”

To feel less helpless, Rankin came here to a town hall meeting run by the lawyers who filed the third class-action lawsuit.

“We wanted to make sure this was a legitimate case, a good case, a strong case,” said Phil Federico, a class action suit lawyer. “And it is it’s about as good as it gets.”

The lawyers brought their experts.

They showed pictures of the working mill in the past and one now showing a stark difference.

“All paper mills have an odor,” expert Kenneth Norcross. “All of them. I’ve never been to one that had an odor like this.”

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