‘It’s an attack.” Community plagued by paper mill foul odor in York County to be held accountable

South Carolina News

YORK COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — People plagued by foul smells from a nearby plant mill got to make their voices heard Wednesday night.

But they were still left with several questions about what’s going to be done to fix the stench.

“Now that we know everything that’s happening, how come they’re allowed to continue to operate, how come you guys don’t go after DHEC or the EPA and make New Indy shut down until they actually…fines don’t mean anything to people like this but i mean if they’re poisoning us..?” one woman in the audience asked the legal team. 

That was just one of the questions raised during the Town Hall meeting in Rock Hill that discussed the legal, health and environmental effects of the smell coming from New Indy containerboard plant.

“Somehow people are concentrating on the smell when it’s actually the chemicals that they were talking about,” Betty Rankin said. “The hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs and it’s not a pleasant smell but it’s not what burns the nostrils, goes into the respiratory system, and impacts everything in your body. It’s more of the chemicals that are in that smell.”

Rankin has to wear two masks – but she’s fully vaccinated and she says she wears them because of New Indy.

For her this week alone, the smell has attacked her body, her home, and her dog.

“This past week has been one of the worst weeks of my life and I don’t say that frivolously because New Indy attacked, and it is an attack,” Rankin said. “It’s like living in a warzone and you don’t know when the attack is coming you just know it’s coming.”

When the smell hit on this week, it took her hours to recover from it.

“I have a gas mask, I just forgot to take it up to the barn. So it’s carried with me – that’s why the bag that you’re holding is so heavy,” Rankin said. 

A few people wondered how long the lawsuit could take before they received relief.

The lawyers said they plan to file a motion for injunctive relief where a judge can tell the facility to stop production immediately. The legal team is waiting on the plant to do a few things on their end before setting their plan in motion.

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