In South Carolina, residents battle paper mill pollution and say EPA falling short

A group of residents who say they are “prisoners” in their homes because of ongoing pollution from a South Carolina paper mill will have their complaints aired in federal court on Wednesday as the mill seeks to dismiss their class action lawsuit.

Two North Carolina and eight South Carolina residents, all living within a range of 2-1/2 to roughly 14 miles from the paper mill, are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They blame the mill for alleged “egregious and wrongful emission of foul and harmful hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, methanol, and other pollutants and contaminants to the air,” along with discharging “inadequately treated wastewater” into the Catawba River.

They are asking the court to stop the plant from continuing to release the pollutants. The complaint includes data and reports showing that state regulators and federal regulators ordered the plant to clean up its operations more than a year ago. The finalization of a consent decree is still pending, however.

The pollution stemming from operations at New-Indy Catawba LLC in Catawba, South Carolina affects potentially more than one million people who live and work in the region, according to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina.