New Indy Over to Pay $1.1M Penalty for Emissions from South Carolina Paper Mill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Indy Catawba LLC (New Indy) have preliminarily agreed to resolve allegations concerning toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emission releases. The agency’s press release, issued late last week, explained that under the proposed terms, New Indy will implement pollution control measures in addition to paying the fine.

Reportedly, the EPA issued the mill an emergency order on May 13, 2021 to “prevent imminent and substantial endangerment to surrounding communities.” It was concerned about hydrogen sulfide, “a flammable, colorless gas that smells like rotten eggs,” and can cause various adverse health effects. Those reportedly include irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat, difficulty breathing for individuals with asthma, and respiratory distress or arrest in some cases of high exposure.

The EPA said that the mill’s noxious emissions impacted residents along the North Carolina and South Carolina border, and Catawba Indian Nation. As a result of its May order, the EPA required New Indy to install several hydrogen sulfide sensors at its fence line and prohibited it from emitting at levels above health-based parameters.

Now, the proposed consent order, which must first go through a 30-day public comment period, includes other measures like a carbon filtration system and a functioning secondary containment system. In a motion also filed last week, the federal government asked that the court wait to sign the proposed consent decree until after the comment period.

For its part, the company expressed contentment with the resolution. “New-Indy worked with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve this matter and will comply fully with the agreement,” Tony Hobson, the mill’s manager said in a statement. “The mill has cooperated with regulators throughout the process, implemented a long list of improvements, and is grateful for this positive and constructive outcome.”