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Scientists collect samples from Catawba River near New Indy paper mill

The Catawba Riverkeeper said it's received multiple reports of unsightly foam forming downstream from the New Indy paper mill.

CATAWBA, S.C. — Scientists launched into the Catawba River Tuesday to investigate whether a York County paper mill, already being blamed for emitting a stinky odor, is also causing foam to form downstream from the plant.

The river forms the eastern border of the New Indy paper mill in Catawba.

DHEC has ordered the mill to take corrective action after it found the plant is responsible for a foul odor resulting in more than 17,000 complaints.

On Tuesday, a three-person team made up of two South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) scientists and Brandon Jones of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation spent the day collecting samples from different spots on the river.

Jones believes New Indy is releasing more surfactants into the river, which are substances that can create bubbles.

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"The foam itself is just kind of a nuisance, and it's unsightly, but we're concerned about what's causing the foam," Jones said. "And then seeing if that has any other impacts to the health of the environment."

He said the foam's been spotted near Landsford Canal State Park and Lake Wateree.

DHEC will analyze the water samples, and Jones hopes they'll have the results in a few weeks.

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"Everybody has been kind of looking at this and collaborating," Jones said. "We are optimistic that we finally have it figured out."

South Carolina DHEC's board is scheduled to meet virtually Thursday at 10 a.m.

New Indy and its parent companies, which include The Kraft Group, owned by NFL New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, hasn't responded to WCNC's repeated requests for an interview.

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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