People affected by New Indy Containerboard are ‘fighting back’ with different efforts

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) -Right now there are two active orders and three lawsuits filed against New Indy Containerboard in Catawba, South Carolina.

It has been seven months since people living in York, Lancaster, Union and Mecklenburg counties first complained. WBTV has talked to people on the ground a lot lately and they tell me they do not feel like things are getting much better despite the EPA’s involvement and the lawsuits. They think it is getting worse.

The reporting data backs that up. The Department of Health and Environmental Control says they have been getting an increase in reports in the last two weeks. They have gotten over more than 1,500 reports in the last two weeks. There’s been a total of 25,000 reports since DHEC started taking them.

The agency also says New Indy has not exceeded the allowable amount of hydrogen sulfide levels. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency extended its order saying there have been lower hydrogen sulfide levels so there could be a possible long-term solution.

That is where the three lawsuits come in. The lawsuits are trying to push New Indy to change its waste removal process through operational and system updates, but a few days ago, New Indy submitted a motion to dismiss telling the judge none of the lawsuits have a strong enough case against them.

For Kerry Bishop, who lives nine miles away from New Indy, this process has been frustrating.

”They bought this plant more than three years ago and they knew what the state of the lagoons were then. They are just not doing what they are supposed to do,” says Bishop.

Bishop and hundreds of others are taking those frustrations and turning them into action. Working outside in Kerry Bishop’s neighborhood is not always an option with the nasty smell coming from New Indy Containerboard still lingering.

”It’s just sad that they’re not…I don’t feel like they’re doing anything,” says Bishop.

Bishop and a group of thousands of people online are banding together. They have made flyers, sent emails and collaborated in a Facebook group with more than 3000 people.

“All of it is important and we’ll find other avenues Every day something’s changing,” she says.

These neighbors are reaching out to everyone who they think could make a difference in this fight. The NFL, David Tepper, Governor Henry McMaster–you name it, they have probably been contacted. Bishop says formal letters are going out to even more people soon.

“We have to prove to have more than their employees,” she says. “We have to have enough to prove to a judge that this is a serious issue that’s affecting everyone.”

Bishop says she hears from the company every now and again. WBTV reached out to New Indy for comment on her efforts. No one got back to the station, but Bishop says the group is still full steam ahead until the work is done.

“We’re kind of an added step in there to kind of keep on them and say we’re not going anywhere, we care. We’re still here we’re not going anywhere we care. We don’t have any time to sit around and be contaminated,” says Bishop.

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