Sickened NC-SC homeowners seek governor’s help as foul odor gags neighborhoods

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Homeowners in parts of south Charlotte and Upstate South Carolina said a pungent odor continued wafting into their neighborhoods in recent days, infiltrating their homes and causing headaches and sore throats.

‘I’m nauseous from this,’ a Clover, S.C., woman reported this week on a Facebook page dedicated to the odor. The page had 971 members as of Saturday morning.

“The smell has filled my house and woken me up out of my sleep this morning,” a Rock Hill, S.C., resident reported on the site Saturday morning. “Smells like soured laundry.”

South Carolina environmental health officials believe a paper mill in Catawba, S.C., is the likely culprit. But company officials have denied the claim, and state regulators on Friday said their investigation continues.

Meanwhile, residents as recently as Saturday morning said the odor continues to gag them.

On Saturday, an administrator of the Facebook page urged everyone to file an online report about what they’re smelling to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s office. “We need him on board,” she said.

In recent months, residents have filed reports about the odor with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Department officials said they’d received more than 5,000 reports by early April from residents of York and Lancaster counties, S.C., and neighboring areas in North Carolina.

Residents reported “odors of rotten eggs, sewage/sewer gas, cabbage, paper mill smells, chemical, etc.,” Renee Shealy, chief of the S.C. Bureau of Environmental Health Services, wrote to New-Indy on April 9.

S.C. investigators found that the New-Indy Containerboard plant in Catawba is a “significant contributor” to the odors, Shealy wrote.

Tony Hobson, New-Indy vice president of manufacturing, disputed the claim.

New-Indy hired an outside firm that found no chemical compounds “in any meaningful concentration that would equate to intense odors,” Hobson wrote on April 16 to Myra Reece, the state director of environmental affairs, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by The Charlotte Observer.

“Weston Solutions personnel did not detect off-site, mill-type odors, but did detect odors from a fire, and sewage-related odors,” Hobson wrote,

On a state website dedicated to the odor, South Carolina officials said some of the odor reports “indicated smoke was in the air.” That smoke is likely from prescribed burns to control forest fires, official said.

Also, North Carolina environmental regulators have ruled out sewage plants in the state as a cause of the odor, S.C. officials said.

“DHEC and local partners continue to work to resolve this concern,” S.C. regulators said in a statement Friday. “DHEC takes odor concerns very seriously and remains committed to providing information to those affected by these odors.”

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