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H2S in South and North Carolina

Site Contact:
U.S. EPA Region 4 | 404-562-8400
region4press@epa.gov (press inquiries)

(R4PublicAffairs@epa.gov (public inquiries))

Site Location:
5300 Curreton Ferry Rd
Catawba, SC 29704

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) contacted EPA Region 4 the week of Apr. 5 about odor concerns in Catawba, SC after which EPA became part of a multistate team made up of SC DHEC, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), and Mecklenburg County Air Quality (MCAQ) to investigate the cause of the odor. This action follows numerous complaints from citizens across portions of South and North Carolina, including Mecklenburg and Union Counties, and the Catawba Indian Nation (CIN).

Actions to Date

January 2023
As of January 18, 2023, daily air sampling data reports are no longer posted to this response.epa.gov website. Those reports are posted to New Indy Catawba's website at http://newindycatawba.com/#daily-reporting.  

December 2022
EPA has remained committed to investigating New Indy’s compliance with all Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements. EPA issued a Notice of Potential Violation and Opportunity to Confer (NOPVOC) to New Indy on December 6, 2022, concerning potential violations of the CAA New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulation requirements and the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). The PSD regulations establish a permit review process for the construction and operation of new or modified stationary sources to ensure that any new emissions will not cause or contribute to an exceedance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The Pulp and Paper NESHAP regulates emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAP). The HAP at issue in this case is methanol. A NOPVOC is part of EPA Region 4’s process when making a compliance determination and offers the company an opportunity to meet to provide any additional information about the potential violations before EPA makes its final compliance determination.

November 2022
On November 16, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina approved a consent decree that resolves allegations that Defendant New Indy Containerboard Catawba LLC’s paper and pulp factory was causing an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health or welfare or the environment under Section 303 of the Clean Air Act through its emissions of elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The consent decree ensures that New Indy will be required to comply with requirements and stop elevated H2S emissions or face additional penalties.  The complaint was brought in 2021 by the United States, on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more in the Nov. 17 news release.

September 2022
EPA requested that New-Indy Catawba LLC conduct sampling for total reduced sulfur (TRS) compounds [hydrogen sulfide (H2S), dimethyl sulfide (DMS), dimethyl disulfide (DMDS), and methyl mercaptan (MMC)] in May 2022 to compare the results to the TRS liquid concentration data collected in July 2021. Review the TRS Test Report here or on the Documents tab of this page. 

June 2022
A copy of the final report generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 Air Enforcement Branch for an inspection conducted at New-Indy Catawba LLC in Catawba, South Carolina, on April 12-13, 2022 is posted under the Documents tab on this page and here.

January 19, 2022
EPA is hosting a public hearing on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. ET to provide the opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed consent decree between EPA and the New Indy Catawba, LLC facility in Catawba, SC, and to include an opportunity for the Southeastern Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit to address health-related questions. Please review the event flyer for details. 

December 29, 2021
On December 29, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lodged a proposed consent decree in U.S. District Court in which New Indy Catawba, LLC has agreed to robust injunctive relief designed to prevent hydrogen sulfide (H2S) concentrations above levels that endanger people’s health from the company’s Catawba, South Carolina paper mill. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $1,100,000. This proposed settlement follows an emergency order issued by EPA on May 13, 2021 to the New Indy Catawba mill to prevent imminent and substantial endangerment to surrounding communities. Read more in the EPA news release.

November/December 2021
EPA is continuing an investigation of New Indy for any violations of law or other enforceable commitments and is coordinating with state partners as they also conduct investigations. In addition to air quality concerns, SC DHEC is leading the enforcement of Clean Water Act violations that were found at New Indy. Read more about the background of this site and the monitoring and enforcement steps taken to date at the New Indy Containerboard facility in this EPA Fact Sheet

July 12, 2021 Statement
EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated action in the District Court for South Carolina seeking to extend a Clean Air Act Section 303 Order issued by EPA to address hydrogen sulfide emissions at the New Indy Containerboard pulp and paper mill in Catawba, SC. DOJ, on behalf of EPA, has filed a Complaint which  automatically extends the duration of the Section 303 Order by 14 days. Concurrently, DOJ filed a joint motion with New Indy Containerboard to further extend the duration of the Section 303 Order until October 31, 2021 to allow time to determine a long-term solution. By statute, the Clean Air Act Section 303 Administrative Order would have expired on July 12, 2021. These actions are intended to reduce and prevent public health and welfare risks associated with hydrogen sulfide emissions. 

Recent data from some of the fence line air monitoring conducted by New Indy Containerboard pursuant to the Section 303 Order show lower concentrations of hydrogen sulfide which indicates the possibility that a long-term solution can be developed. The extension provides the Company and EPA additional time to evaluate proposed solutions. 

June 28, 2021 Statement
The final EPA inspection report from the Apr. 26-27, 2021 EPA inspection of the New Indy Containerboard facility in Catawba, SC is available for review. The report includes photos (posted in the images section) and videos (posted in the documents section) taken during the inspection and listed in a photo and video log as Attachment B in the inspection report (pgs. 18-20). 

June 16, 2021 Statement
In accordance with EPA’s Clean Air Act Section 114 letter dated June 2, 2021, New Indy Containerboard (New Indy) submitted their revised Condensate Collection and Treatment Test Plan which outlines wastewater testing, including the pollutants to be sampled and the methodologies for collection and analyzation. New Indy is required to submit the results of this testing by July 30, 2021.

June 11, 2021 Statement
The final EPA inspection report from the Apr. 15, 2021 EPA inspection of the New Indy Containerboard facility in Catawba, SC is available for review. The report includes 8 videos (posted to the documents section) and 8 photos taken during the inspection. 

June 4, 2021 Statement
New Indy Containerboard (New Indy) submitted a Final Remedial Plan on May 25, 2021, approved by EPA on May 28, 2021, with comments pertaining to the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). The QAPP is part of the Final Remedial Plan, and New Indy submitted a revised QAPP on June 1, 2021. This and all supporting documents, including EPA comments, are posted to the documents page of this website. EPA also issued a Clean Air Act Section 114 letter on June 2, 2021 to New Indy to collect certain information during wastewater testing. 

June 1, 2021 Statement
On May 13, 2021, pursuant to Section 114(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act, EPA issued an information request to the New Indy Containerboard (New Indy) facility located in Catawba, South Carolina for information relating to emissions from the facility. Review the information request here. New monitoring data from locations along the New Indy facility's fence line have been added to the documents page of this website. 

May 25, 2021 Statement
Review all daily EPA data reports from the monitoring stations surrounding the areas of concern here.

May 14, 2021 Statement
Data from nine monitoring stations in the Rock Hill area can be viewed here. EPA continues to closely coordinate with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and Mecklenburg County Air Quality on the ongoing community monitoring. The SC DHEC is also posting data here

May 13, 2021 Statement
EPA Region 4 issued an emergency order on May 13, 2021 under Section 303 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to New Indy Containerboard to reduce emissions of hydrogen sulfide from their pulp and paper mill in Catawba, SC, to meet specific limits as monitored at the fence line. Simultaneously, EPA sent the company a formal request for information under CAA Section 114 requiring the company to perform air monitoring in the communities surrounding the facility. EPA will continue its own air monitoring around the Rock Hill, SC area this week in response to requests from state, local and tribal agencies. These actions are intended to reduce and prevent future public health and welfare risks associated with hydrogen sulfide emissions. Review the full emergency order here  and the news release here. EPA data from monitoring stations in South & North Carolina can be viewed here

May 11, 2021 Statement
In response to requests from the Catawba Indian Nation (CIN), SC DHEC and NC DEQ, EPA Region 4 will conduct additional air monitoring in the Rock Hill, SC area and the CIN where odor complaints have been made associated with the New Indy Containerboard pulp and paper mill in Catawba, SC. This monitoring event is intended to determine air quality conditions in the affected areas. Beginning Monday, May 10, 2021, EPA staff were deployed to identify potential locations where continuous air monitors can be placed. 

April 28, 2021 Statement
EPA and SC DHEC conducted a joint Clean Air Act onsite inspection of the New Indy Containerboard pulp and paper mill in Catawba, SC on Apr. 15, 2021. An EPA Geospatial Measurement of Air Pollution (GMAP) mobile laboratory was deployed to the New Indy facility and surrounding areas on Apr. 24. The GMAP is equipped with analyzers for a variety of compounds such as methane, BTEX - benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. It also has meteorological and global positioning system (GPS) equipment. The GMAP can conduct real-time monitoring and mapping of air pollutants while the vehicle is in motion, while taking meteorological conditions into consideration. In addition, EPA conducted a Clean Water Act inspection to determine the extent of potential violations from Apr. 26-27.

Working in collaboration with SC DHEC, NC DEQ and MCAQ, EPA evaluated data and information collected in the area and at the New Indy Containerboard facility to identify options for addressing the situation. Data from the GMAP is available here.

SC DHEC has established a website with information about the investigation and for citizens who may be impacted by odor concerns. The site includes a portal to document specific parameters and impacts. If citizens are experiencing significant or acute health concerns, please contact a health care provider.