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‘It’s like living in a war zone’ | Neighbors of the New-Indy paper plant gather for a town hall to discuss solutions

One option is to join in a class action lawsuit that hopes to end the pollution and fix the problem

CATAWBA, S.C. — People who live near the New Indy Containerboard paper mill in Catawba, South Carolina, are getting answers when it comes to their health and legal rights as it relates to the plant's emission problems. 

A town hall meeting Wednesday night gave neighbors the chance to hear directly from environmental and health professionals about the impact of the air and water pollution the plant is producing and find out what can be done about it.

Many residents shared their experience with all the pollution firsthand.

“Horrible headache, nausea, dizziness. It’s like living in a war zone," said Betty Rankin. "You don’t know when the attack is coming, you just know it’s coming."  

Following a presentation of the facts, residents then had an opportunity to ask the questions most concerning to them.

“How come they’re allowed to operate? one neighbor asked. “How come you guys don’t go after DHEC or EPA and make New Indy shut down?”

Legal experts say with a class-action lawsuit, many tools can be used to begin making a difference, like potentially filing a motion to stop production, but ultimately forcing New Indy to operate safely and stop the pollution for good.

“We can work together with them to create a solution and do it quickly,” attorney Philip Federico said.

Some of the quick-fix solutions include New Indy investing in new and improved odor strippers, reducing paper production, and upgrading wastewater treatment technology.

“I wanna see New Indy be a good neighbor, put the money upfront to make sure they’re not poisoning the people around them,” Rankin said.

Learn more about the class action lawsuit and how to get involved.

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