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South Carolina Paper Mill Sued By Charlotte Resident For 'Rotten Egg' Smell

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

A Charlotte resident has filed a private-nuisance, class-action lawsuit against a South Carolina paper mill linked to a rotten odor. Kenny M. White filed the lawsuit not just on his behalf, but for residents living in a 30-mile radius of the paper mill along the South Carolina, North Carolina border.

The lawsuit claims that when the New-Indy Containerboard in Catawba, South Carolina, switched over from making paper to making a high volume of containerboard back in February, it started releasing liquid compounds into an open-air lagoon that contained, among other things, hydrogen sulfide.

“New-Indy did so even though it knew or should have known a nine-fold increase in pollution in the open-air lagoons would damage public health and unreasonably interfere with the use of nearby properties,” alleges the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names the paper mill’s owners as Schwarz Partners LP and The Kraft Group LLC, which is a holding company of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

It seeks at least $5 million in compensation.

South Carolina officials have received more than 17,000 complaints about a rotten egg smell since February. And the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered New-Indy to come up with a plan to reduce hydrogen sulfides emissions. The EPA said New-Indy Containerboard must submit a final plan for that by May 24. The plant must also install additional monitoring equipment to keep track of its emissions.

New-Indy said in a statement released last week that it has been working to find the source of the smell since March, is working with local, state and federal authorities and strives to be a good neighbor.

“Our employees live and work here, and we are eager and determined to get this right,” said the company.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.