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2nd Lawsuit Targets York County Paper Mill Over 'Foul Stench'

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

Residents near a paper mill in York County, South Carolina, have filed a second class-action lawsuit claiming that noxious odors from the plant are surrounding their homes and making them sick.

Shirley Landsdown and Ethel Piercey of York County sued New-Indy Containerboard last week at federal court in Rock Hill. The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages. The women say the paper and cardboard maker failed to control emissions, including by halting or reducing the use of equipment to treat hydrogen sulfide and other byproducts that have a rotten-egg smell.

Piercey says in the suit that a “very foul stench occurs quite often, usually at night. All in my family have lost sleep, have experienced headaches and our home stinks for many hours afterwards.”

Another resident, Francis Hovanec, says in the suit that the “smell has been in our home since we moved in. It has woken us up with headaches and nausea. We can’t enjoy our screened-in porch due to the smell.”

State officials say they've received more than 17,000 complaints since February about the foul odors around the Catawba River mill. The lawyers for Piercey and Lansdown say they've heard complaints from at least 45 households in the area.

A Charlotte homeownerfiled a similar suit two weeks ago. State and federal environmental officials have ordered the companyto fix the problems.

The mill has been in operation since 1957. The residents claim the problems began after the plant was acquired by new owners last year and converted from paper and newsprint production to containerboard. The new owner, New-Indy Containerboard LLC, is a joint venture between Schwarz Partners and The Kraft Group, which is owned by New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft.

WFAE has requested comment from New-Indy. This story will be updated.

Read the lawsuit here:

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