YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WJZY) – A lawsuit has just been filed against the New Indy Paper Mill in Catawba, stemming from the foul odor that has been plaguing residents for months.
FOX 46 Chief Legal Correspondent Seema Iyer says the lawsuit is no surprise. “It was the first question I asked the residents.”
After DHEC and the EPA both ordered New Indy to fix the problem, there was evidence for a civil action to be pursued.
What is somewhat surprising is that the plaintiff named in the lawsuit actually lives in Charlotte, within 30 miles of the plant.
However, he is just the named plaintiff in the class-action suit. For this kind of filing, there must be just that – a class – and since there have been thousands of complaints, it’s likely the group consists of people who live in both North and South Carolina within the 30-mile radius.
To be a class action everyone must have similar purpose and complaint, and the class could get larger.
The basis of the lawsuit is that the odor is injurious to the health, welfare, quality of life, and use and enjoyment of property for those who live near it.
For months now people in the area have told FOX 46 that they have been prisoners in their own homes, not being able to enjoy their backyards and porches and often the smell seeps in. So life inside the home is often miserable.
“It smells like fecal matter,” one neighbor told us back in April. “It comes around very often, three to four times a week maybe.”
The problem caused more than 5,000 complaints to flood into DHEC within a matter of weeks.
“It’s on NextDoor as well. We’ve got a lot of people commenting. I made a post and she made a post as well. A lot of people have been calling the number filing reports, cause everybody has been aware there’s been a smell for years…but not to this extreme.”
The mill is owned by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Schawrz Partners LP. They make and supply recycled cardboard.
On Thursday last week, the EPA issued an emergency order to New Indy Containerboard to reduce hydrogen sulfide emissions from their paper mill in York County effective immediately.
The EPA said it is also requiring the company to perform air monitoring in the communities surrounding the facility to prevent future health and welfare risks.