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EPA Orders SC Paper Mill To Cut Emissions, Monitor Air Quality

The New Indy Containerboard paper mill in Catawba, South Carolina.
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The New Indy Containerboard paper mill in Catawba, South Carolina.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a South Carolina paper mill to come up with a plan for reducing hydrogen sulfide emissions that are causing unpleasant odors.

Air quality tests by state and federal inspectors last month found elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide around the New Indy Containerboard paper mill. The chemical is a byproduct of the paper-making process.

Odors around the mill on the Catawba River near the North Carolina-South Carolina line have brought more than 17,000 complaints since February.

On Thursday, the EPA ordered New Indy to submit a draft plan for fixing the problem by Monday, and a final plan by May 24. The plant also must install additional air monitoring equipment.

An EPA spokesman says the company so far has not been cited for any violations. "It's not being viewed as a violation," said the EPA's Jason McDonald. "We don't have enough information to make that determination."

McDonald didn't say what penalties the company might face if it doesn't comply with the order.

New Indy said in a statement released Friday that it is reviewing the order, but its own testing disagrees with EPA and state findings. In April, the company told South Carolina environmental officials that a consultant it had hired found no connection between the plant and the odor.

Read the full statement below.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.