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Federal court signs off on $1.1 million fine against New-Indy paper mill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (From news reports) - The New Indy paper mill in York County has agreed to a $1.1 million penalty and consent decree to resolve the lawsuit filed against the mill for causing a foul odor.

The complaint was brought in 2021 by the United States, on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA").

On Nov. 16, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina approved the consent decree for allegations against New Indy Containerboard Catawba LLC's paper and pulp mill.

The allegations said the mill was causing imminent and substantial endangerment to public health or welfare or the environment.

The consent decree ensures that New Indy will be required to comply with requirements and stop elevated hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions or face additional penalties. H2S is a flammable, colorless gas that smells like rotten eggs. Exposure to H2S may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat. It may also cause difficulty in breathing for individuals with asthma.

New Indy is also required to pay $1,100,000 in civil penalties and comply with operational requirements and emission monitoring and concentration levels that are focused on ensuring that H2S emissions by New Indy remain below levels that may present health impacts. After three sequential years of compliance with the consent decree requirements beginning yesterday, New Indy may seek to terminate the consent decree, but the operational requirements will remain in effect under enforceable permits.

"This is a substantial penalty that represents accountability and corrective justice under Section 303 of the Clean Air Act," said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Adair F. Boroughs. "We are thankful for the great work of the EPA and our state partners and remain committed to protecting our communities through tough enforcement of the nation's environmental laws."

"Thanks to EPA's swift action, the facility has not had an exceedance of the health-based standard for H2S since September 2021 and this settlement ensures that protection will be extended long-term," said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman.

The EPA continues to investigate compliance for other pollutants and, should there be additional noncompliance with the CAA or other environmental laws, it will be addressed under separate action.

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