Stinking SC paper mill fined $129,360 over stench that neighbors say made them sick

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After months of investigation, South Carolina regulators fined a stench-prone paper mill nearly $130,000 over pollution that led to thousands of odor complaints in communities in both Carolinas near Charlotte.

The New-Indy paper company, located in York County, must beef up pollution control equipment to prevent more problems, according to an enforcement order released by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

New-Indy must make improvements to its wastewater treatment system near the Catawba River and conduct more monitoring, among other things, DHEC said in a June 29 letter to the Catawba-area paper mill.

DHEC, which had said it would take enforcement action against New-Indy, issued the order Wednesday and released it publicly Thursday afternoon.

The order said New-Indy violated the state Pollution Control Act and water pollution control permits by failing to operate its wastewater treatment plant as required. The order said the company failed to keep the treatment plant in good condition. Sludge had accumulated in part of the treatment system, the order said.

DHEC said New-Indy is working to resolve problems, but more needs to be done.

“While considerable progress has been made to reduce and minimize the potential for emissions, additional actions ..... must be taken promptly,’’ the agency said in a June 29 letter to the company’s attorney.

New-Indy acquired the aging paper mill in 2019 under a plan to make container board instead of bleached paper. But after acquiring the old Bowater mill, the company sparked tens of thousands of complaints about odors that were stronger than are typically found at paper mills.

Late last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined the company more than $1 million and told New Indy to clean up its act.

The paper mill has pledged to do better. It is owned, in part, by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.