ATLANTA (Jan.19, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a public hearing on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on a proposed consent decree with New Indy Catawba, LLC to address hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions from its paper mill. Participants may join virtually or in-person. Representatives from the Southeastern Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit will also be present to address participants’ health-related questions.
Who: EPA and the general public
What: Public Hearing regarding EPA’s proposed consent decree with New Indy Catawba, LLC
When: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Rock Hill Sports & Events Center, 326 Technology Center Way, Rock Hill, S.C 29730
Space is limited and in-person attendance will be capped at 150 people. Registration is required for both virtual and in person attendance. Virtual attendees should register via Zoom, while in-person attendees should register here. Masks are required at the meeting venue.
On December 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lodged a proposed consent decree in U.S. District Court in which New Indy Catawba, LLC agreed to robust injunctive relief designed to keep H2S concentrations from the company’s Catawba, South Carolina paper mill below levels that endanger people’s health. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $1,100,000. The proposed settlement follows an emergency order issued by EPA on May 13, 2021 to New Indy Catawba, LLC to prevent imminent and substantial endangerment to surrounding communities.
H2S is a flammable, colorless gas that smells like rotten eggs. Exposure to H2S may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat. It may also cause difficulty in breathing for individuals with asthma. Respiratory distress or arrest has been observed in people exposed to very high concentrations of H2S.
The proposed settlement requires New Indy Catawba, LLC to operate its steam stripper unit to control hazardous air emissions, monitor and treat sulfur-containing fuel condensate sent to the wastewater treatment system, and improve the functioning of the wastewater treatment system. The facility must install and maintain a carbon filtration system on their post-aeration tank to minimize air emissions, and install and maintain a functioning secondary containment system around the by-product black liquor storage area to prevent uncontrolled black liquor releases from reaching the wastewater treatment system. New Indy Catawba must also continue to operate and maintain the H2S fence line monitors and comply with the health-based levels at the fence line. The company must apply for and receive federally enforceable permits incorporating these terms and is not eligible to terminate the consent decree until it has completed all injunctive relief and operated for at least three years without any fence line exceedances.
The lodging of this proposed consent decree represents the next step of EPA’s process to address air concentrations at this facility. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period from January 10, 2022, through February 9, 2022.
The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice will prepare a response to public comments before filing a motion with the Court to enter the consent decree. If entered by the Court, the consent decree will only resolve the EPA’s Section 303 Clean Air Act imminent and substantial endangerment action against New Indy Catawba. It specifically reserves EPA’s right to pursue enforcement for other potential violations of law. The EPA intends to hold New Indy Catawba accountable for any violations of law or other enforceable commitments. The EPA is continuing our investigation and coordinating with our state partners as we work together to investigate potential violations of the CAA and other environmental laws.
For information and updates on EPA’s activities: H2S in South and North Carolina
For more information about the Clean Air Act Section 303 orders: www.epa.gov/enforcement/guidance-use-section-303-clean-air-act-caa
A copy of the proposed consent decree and instructions for submitting comments are available on the Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-v-new-indy-catawba-llc
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Author: Region 04