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EPA investigating emissions increase caused by ‘black liquor’ overflow at New Indy facility in South Carolina

EPA officials say they are aware of increased emissions at the New Indy facility in Catawba, SC and are in the process of gathering additional information.
EPA officials say they are aware of increased emissions at the New Indy facility in Catawba, SC...
EPA officials say they are aware of increased emissions at the New Indy facility in Catawba, SC and are in the process of gathering additional information.(WBTV)
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 12:26 PM EDT
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CATAWBA, S.C. (WBTV) - The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating an increase in emissions at the New Indy paper mill facility in South Carolina.

EPA officials say they are aware of increased emissions at the New Indy facility in Catawba, SC and are in the process of gathering additional information.

According to representatives from New Indy, the increased emissions are a result of an outage on a recovery boiler causing a tank to overflow for 24 minutes. The overflow liquid is what they call “black liquor.”

New Indy officials say as soon as the alarm went off, workers went and stopped it immediately, but in that 24 minutes, it put down about 12,000 gallons of black liquor essentially down to the Aeration Stabilization Basin (ASB).

New Indy officials say they actually didn’t see any increases of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) emissions around the ASB, but this black liquor changed the biological balance in the ASB.

This then changed the biological balance and oxygen level in Pond 1 which contributed to the high Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) levels.

New Indy officials now have all the aerators running in the ASB and they have two aerators now on permanent power running in Pond 1 which they say will help bring the oxygen levels back to where it needs to be.

To help combat the high levels of H2S, New Indy officials say they are adding hydrogen peroxide and ferric chloride at high doses which they have done in the past.

Upon notification by New Indy, officials say the EPA immediately began assessing the emissions increase against the requirements of the Clean Air Act Emergency Order currently in place at the facility.

The cause of the exceedances has been attributed to the overflow of black liquor at the aeration stabilization basin which is part of the facility’s wastewater treatment process. Black liquor is a byproduct of the conversion process of wood into paper. EPA officials say New Indy is currently working to implement corrective actions to prevent a future occurrence.

“As we work to learn more information about the impact to the surrounding areas and the cause and extent of the increase, we will work closely with our partners at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The health and safety of all residents remains paramount to EPA and the Agency intends to continue to deliver on our commitment to protect public health and the environment,” part of an EPA statement read.

Information on the New Indy facility can be found here.

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