‘Sadly we’re being poisoned.’ Fort Mill family says they’re forced to move over New Indy Paper Mill’s toxic chemical smell

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FORT MILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Karen Reilly’s home is in disarray. That’s because she’s putting her home up for sale.

“Sadly we’re being poisoned, and nothing is being done about it,” said Reilly. 

Reilly said New Indy Paper Mill’s continued toxic chemical smell was enough to leave their Fort Mill home of 12 years.

“It’s heartbreaking because we love it here,” said Reilly. 

But what they don’t love is experiencing symptoms like headaches, head pressure, and burning eyes from the chemicals in the air.

Her daughter suffered a brain tumor six years ago, so the symptoms are sensitive to her and her family. 

“We shouldn’t be living this way,” she said. 

The EPA and SC DHEC investigated reports of increased emissions from the facility on September 3, a violation of the agreement of the Clean Air Act Emergency Order.

New Indy said it came from the overflow of black liquor, a byproduct of the conversion process of wood into paper, part of the facility’s wastewater treatment process.

“The way I see it, they know what they need to do, they have the money to do it. I go back to, if they were going to fix it, wouldn’t they have fixed it already. How long are we going to wait this out?” she said. 

She’s packing up her gas mask that she’s been accustomed to wearing while sleeping at night, along with their $400 humidifier used to escape the smell.

“I’m more afraid of the long-term effects. I don’t have any trust that something is going to be done soon enough,” Reily said.

She says they don’t know where they’re headed, probably somewhere in North Carolina, but close enough to where her husband can commute efficiently, and where her oldest daughter can commute to college. 

But she knows, they can’t stay in their beloved home any longer. 

She says she will continue to fight for clean air even after they move.  

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