Rock Hill Town Hall Event On “Rotten Egg Odor” Sheds Light On Lawsuit Against New Indy Plant

CHARLOTTE, NC – Angry and concerned residents of York, Lancaster, Union counties as well as southern Mecklenburg, filled a conference room on Wednesday night to learn more about a class-action lawsuit against a local cardboard manufacturing plant.

They’re looking for answers and in some cases compensation as they say foul smells and chemicals continue to pollute the area around the New Indy plant in Catawba South Carolina.

“The smell was overpowering,” said Betty Rankin.

Rankin lives five miles from the New Indy Plant she says her life has changed dramatically in the last six months.

“My throat closed up. My nostrils burned, my eyes burned, my throat burned, my mouth burned. There was a chemical taste in my mouth,” explained Rankin.

She first noticed the odor in December and she wasn’t alone. Since then, the EPA has received 17,000 complaints about the smell and it’s impacts.

Rankin now brings a gas mask with her everywhere she goes.

“It says in the car. I don’t go anywhere without it,” said Rankin.

Lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit alleging the company sought to increase profits by ignoring environmental standards and polluting properties along the North and South Carolina state line with harmful hydrogen sulfide emissions.

They say Retention ponds and wastewater pools are not operating correctly and the chemical smell is the result.

“It’s not just a bad smell. It’s something that can make you sick. If you smell it often enough and if it’s intense enough, it can cause respiratory problems,” said Philip Federico, the Co-Lead counsel in the suit.

State and federal environmental agencies have also noted that New Indy has several wastewater violations. They’re now working with New Indy on a remediation and mitigation plan.

“You can’t really enjoy anything. It’s just really horrible,” said Deborah Gravel.

At the town hall in Rock Hill, people complained about the harmful impacts to their health both physically and mentally.

“It’s really impacting my life because I’m reluctant to go outside and enjoy the things I usually love to do, like garden” said Gravel.

New Indy released a statement last month saying they’re working to resolve the issues. And that they’ve reworked the wastewater treatment systems and that preliminary data “indicates that our activities are having a positive effect.”

Still, the smell lingers and the residents are losing their patience.

“It’s not right,” said Rankin, “they say they want to be a good neighbor. Well, good neighbors don’t try to harm other people.”