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DHEC fines New-Indy Containerboard $129,000 over 'rotten egg' smell

South Carolina officials are mandating New-Indy take specific actions to resolve one of four disputes between the paper mill and environmental leaders.

CATAWBA, S.C. — A new order from South Carolina environmental officials is solving one of four disputes between the New-Indy Containerboard paper mill, the state health department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Catawba, South Carolina manufacturing plant has been under scrutiny for allegedly producing a foul odor that can be smelled in neighboring communities.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will require New-Indy to take specific actions by specific deadlines to resolve one dispute among all parties involved. The plant must increase pollution control equipment to prevent further problems, according to the order.

New-Indy must also improve its wastewater treatment system after DHEC officials found the company failed to maintain it in good condition due to a build-up of sludge. 

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In addition to changes that must be made to the plant, New-Indy must also pay a civil penalty of $129,360 to DHEC. 

People living near the Catawba-based paper mill have complained about foul smells for some time, going back to 2020. Citizens in York and Lancaster counties described the smell as "paper mill, rotten egg, chemical, sewage, etc." State investigators began digging into those complaints in March 2021. 

Now, the company says new requirements by the state will fix many of the concerns. Residents disagree and say it’s been a nightmare since the plant’s moving truck pulled in.  

“You can't even enjoy your backyard because it smells like rotten eggs or chemicals, fecal odor," Kerri Bishop said.

Bishop said the concern is a laundry list of dangerous chemicals. It’s been an ongoing battle to this day seeking solutions.  

“Reporting and reaching out to DHEC senators, reps, basically anyone we could," Bishop said.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed against the plant.

RELATED: New-Indy asks judge to dismiss class-action lawsuit, plaintiffs argue the smell is impacting people’s health

WCNC Charlotte reached out to New-Indy asking for an interview, and received the following statement:

“New-Indy Catawba is pleased to have reached an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to resolve issues of concern. New-Indy Catawba personnel have worked diligently with state regulators over the past year to develop a plan that will both benefit and protect the community surrounding the facility. The mill’s ongoing investment in cutting edge technologies has successfully kept hydrogen sulfide emissions negligible or zero for many months. This agreement will help ensure that future emissions continue to follow this trend.”

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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the agreement did not require a new air-purifying stripper. 

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