More complaints against SC paper mill report smelly water, headaches, nosebleeds

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- First, it was the foul smell, now it’s the drinking water: People living near the New Indy Plant in South Carolina are detailing even more complaints in a new petition.

“There’s no escaping it. You can light a candle but it’s like putting a flowery aroma over a rotten egg smell. So it’s not even like you can get rid of it,” Jessica Fitzgibbon, who has been experiencing bloody noses and migraines.

Fitzgibbon says she’s never had an issue with the New Indy Plant in her 13 years of being in Fort Mill until it got really bad sometime around February.

“Pinpointing it on my planner that whenever I was having migraines or my family was having bloody noses…it was all connecting to days that we were smelling the smell from the New Indy Plant,” she said.

Fitzgibbon says the smell is also impacting her daughter.

“She just wants to lay around and not play outside. She’ll just want to lay in bed all day and not do school work,” said Fitzgibbon. “I have cats and dogs that go in and out and even on those days they don’t want to go outside. My dog becomes very lethargic. My cats sneeze.”

There’s a new petition circling Facebook requesting that New Indy containerboard upgrade its system. Fitzgibbon is part of those signatures.  

“I’ve also been in contact with Senator Michael Johnson about it,” she said. “He’s doing all he can on his end government wise to pass bills to try and get them to be a better neighbor. We’re doing everything we can do get attention to this.”

Now, there’s also a concern with the drinking water from the Catawba River.

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control says if hydrogen sulfide–the cause of the smell from New Indy–gets into your drinking water, it speeds up the corrosion of metal plumbing materials.

DHEC says it’s been in close communication with local public drinking water suppliers to the area. At this time no issues have been identified that are affecting drinking water quality, but it’s still a concern for neighbors.

“Unfortunately that is our water source. I know we have treatment plants and they say that it’s supposed to be filtered out and stuff, but it smells bad enough coming through your faucet, then you know they’re missing it and God only knows what it’s doing to your body,” Fitzgibbon said.

Since the EPA’s emergency order took effect, there haven’t been any significant readings until Tuesday when the hydrogen sulfide concentration in the air was at 93 parts per billion. Normally it ranges from 5-60 part per billion. The reading says the air quality was really bad around Tom Stevens Road.

FOX 46 is continuing to follow this developing story. Check back for more updates.

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