ATLANTA, May 13, 2021 (Press Release) -Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 issued an emergency order 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, S.C., 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 is also initiating its own air monitoring around the greater Rock Hill area extending into North Carolina this week in response to requests from state, local and tribal agencies. Together, these actions are intended to reduce and prevent future public health and welfare risks associated with hydrogen sulfide emissions.
"The steps taken by EPA today are necessary to address levels of hydrogen sulfide that have impacted residents along the North Carolina and South Carolina border, and Catawba Indian Nation (CIN)," said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator John Blevins. "The joint efforts of CIN, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), and the Mecklenburg County Air Quality (MCAQ) emphasize the agencies' full commitment to restoring the area's air quality."
Upon receipt of the Section 303 order today, New Indy Containerboard is required to immediately begin taking steps to reduce hydrogen sulfide emissions to meet specific limits, as monitored at the fence line, of 600 parts per billion over a rolling 30-minute period and 70 parts per billion over a rolling seven-day average. The facility is required to install three fence line monitors to ensure that it is meeting the limits. Under the order, the company is required to submit a draft plan to meet these limits no later than May 18, followed by a final plan no later than May 24, and comply with the final plan within five days after EPA approval of the company’s final plan. Additionally, the order requires that New Indy Containerboard immediately notify EPA of any hydrogen sulfide exceedance, submit daily documentation of the previous 24 hours of monitoring data, and submit summary reports every seven days documenting the results of the continuous monitoring.
On May 7, 2021, SC DHEC ordered New Indy Containerboard to submit a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for outdoor air quality monitoring both on and off the facility property. Details of SC DHEC’s order can be found here. Under EPA’s CAA Section 114 information request, the company is required to also submit a QAPP to EPA, and EPA will collaborate with SC DHEC on the siting of the monitors in off-site locations in the community.
Since mid-April, EPA has had technical teams on the ground in the Rock Hill, S.C. area conducting an investigation into residents’ complaints about air quality. The issuance of this order and information request represent the next steps EPA and our partners have taken to identify and control the source of the hydrogen sulfide emissions.