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New video from New Indy showing more of lagoon, problem areas causing odor

The smell is spanning over four different counties--York, Lancaster, Union and Mecklenburg counties.
Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) -Exclusive drone video into WBTV’s newsroom shows what is contributing to the rotten egg smell that has been coming from New Indy Containerboard in York County for months.

The smell is spanning over four different counties--York, Lancaster, Union and Mecklenburg counties.

One of the legal teams that have filed a class-action lawsuit against New Indy sent WBTV a drone video showing some of the areas that are supposed to help clean up the smell. Instead, they say, it is the cause of it.

”This lagoon is the poster child for wastewater treatment plant mismanagement,” said Ken Norcross, an environmental expert.

Health officials: S.C. paper plant accused of violations, main culprit of more than 5,000 complaints about strong stench plaguing multiple counties

Strong words are used to describe New Indy Containerboard’s Catawba plant.

Norcross said the videos released show why.

”I’ve never seen one in this bad of a shape,” said Norcross.

Norcross walked WBTV’s Morgan Newell through the drone videos law firm Elrod Pope commissioned as part of their class-action lawsuit against New Indy.

In the video, he says the sludge is a few feet thick when there should be a lot of movement like in this photo when the plant was operating properly.

He said there are high H2S, the toxin creating the odor that is causing health hazards, readings from DHEC near this area that is supposed to be helping.

”It’s the industrial process it’s done all over the world but it’s done better,” said Norcross.

New Indy Containerboard says rotten smell not coming from them; company’s report differs from state’s

Norcross calls the things circles in one of the videos, islands.

He said this accumulated sludge is reducing the effectiveness of the water cleaning process, which is causing the foul odors coming from the plant.

He said the green matter on the top of the sludge is growth which should not be happening.

”As soon as I saw that I said aww ok we have a problem here,” Norcross said. “This is an obvious source of odor when you see all of that stuff settled.”

Another video shows raw wastewater being dumped into the lagoon that Norcross said should be going through a different pipe to be treated before its discharge.

He explains there, it would make the smell much less before being dumped into the lagoon.

Norcross said it’s just one more thing that is contributing to the rotten egg odor and creating health hazards.

”The kind of concentrations they have recorded, the state has recorded are really not good for people,” Norcross said.

That is why lawyer Phil Federico says the lawsuit focuses on cleaning up New Indy’s wastewater treatment process for good.

The lawsuit currently has a request for an injunction.

If it was granted, it would reduce the amount of production New Indy can currently operate under.

It will also require New Indy to stay under reduced operations as long as the injunction is in place/until it comes up with a solution to keep the smell at bay.

”We want to take these corporate individuals and corporations and climatize them,” said Federico.

WBTV asked the lawyers when the process to start fixing all of this could happen and how fast people could see relief.

They said there’s no set time when this could be fixed but the temporary solution would be getting a production reduction.

The Environmental Protection Agency and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control also have current orders out to get New Indy to clean up the odor permeating through the air and possibly the water.

There is a second town hall meeting for the New Indy Containerboard odor.

Anyone can join it at this link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xsOFQgTSSaqwuXFLnZsQtQ. It will start at 7 p.m.

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