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Sun, Jan 23, 2022 03:22
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Environmental agencies slam New-Indy mill in Catawba, claim new environmental violations

CATAWBA, S.C. (From news reports) -- The U.S. EPA and South Carolina DHEC accused New-Indy Containerboard of new violations to the Clean Air Act and the state Pollution Control Act, including violations related to the South Carolina paper mill's ongoing required reduction of its hydrogen sulfide emissions.

The mill is part-owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose team faced the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Homeowners staged a protest outside Bank of America Stadium ahead of the game.

"The smell is just awful," Kerri Bishop, a protester, said. "It comes into our home. It is giving our children nose bleeds and all sorts of allergies, headaches and health issues. It's been almost 10 months. We just need it to stop."

Since spring, local media has repeatedly asked for interview with New-Indy leaders, but they have declined.

After the game on Sunday, as Kraft's motorcade was heading to his plane, local media stood along the road with a sign asking the Patriots' owner for an interview.

According to documents obtained earlier this week, DHEC demanded an enforcement conference on September 30 after they accused the company of violations related to the Pollution Control Act and Water Pollution Control Permits.

Among its allegations, DHEC said New-Indy company failed to update its odor abatement plan, and it transported and stored sludge without properly dewatering it.

During an August visit, DHEC staff members said company workers told them they finished removing solids from the aeration stabilization basin, which regulators pinpointed as the source of the mill's emissions.

However, DHEC said they still found "vegetated islands of accumulated sludge" in the basin, and they alleged they saw workers adding hydrogen peroxide to the basin by using an unapproved method.

In October, the EPA said New-Indy violated the federal order that's governing the mill's ongoing clean-up.

As part of that order, New-Indy's required to operate devices that monitor how much hydrogen sulfide the mill emitted, but the EPA cited several instances where they argued New-Indy's data didn't meet federal guidelines.

South Carolina Senator Michael Johnson (R-16) said he continued to have concerns about New-Indy's progress.

"I need them to take it seriously, and I need them to move at a faster rate than they currently are," Sen. Johnson said. "That's the bottom line."

He urged homeowners to keep reporting odor complaints.

"We've seen dips in the complaints. I mean some of that is just fatigue," Sen. Johnson said. "We have to all stay united until it's fixed."

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