Daily Air Emissions Report
New-Indy is continuously monitoring hydrogen sulfide in various locations both at the Catawba Mill and in surrounding neighborhoods. The report below shows hydrogen sulfide levels as reported by New Indy. The report is updated daily.
From May 13 – June 29, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported the results of daily hydrogen sulfide samplings from 10 different locations in York and Lancaster Counties, South Carolina, and Union County, North Carolina. Those reports can be accessed via the Report Date dropdown menu on the top right-hand side of the map.
Thereafter, New-Indy and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) each began collecting data from their own monitoring stations surrounding the New-Indy Catawba mill. New-Indy placed five of its monitoring stations in close proximity to terminated EPA monitors and SCDHEC installed three monitoring stations of its own. In the interactive map above, you can see the location of each New-Indy and SCDHEC monitoring station and their corresponding data. The full EPA and New-Indy daily reports can be accessed from the Daily Reports below. Full SCDHEC reports beginning on June 29, 2021, can be found HERE.
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New-Indy Catawba LLC frequently asked questions.
What do the daily graphs from air monitoring stations show?
Is the community’s drinking water impacted from the New-Indy wastewater discharge?
No. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) routinely monitors public drinking water as well as the water quality of the rivers in South Carolina. The intake for drinking water systems supplying the neighborhoods in the area are UPSTREAM from the New-Indy discharge. The nearest downstream intake is 9 miles downriver. No issues related to New-Indy have been identified that are affecting drinking water quality. SC DHEC, in coordination with the Catawba Riverkeeper, conducted a special study on the river, looking at upstream and downstream locations relevant to New-Indy. The study found there were no significant impacts to the Catawba River from the New-Indy wastewater discharge. The report can be found at https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/CatawbaRiverStudy_Final.pdf.
What is the Community Engagement Group and what is its purpose?
What does the foul condensate steam stripper do and why can’t New-Indy just use it to reduce odor?
Why is New-Indy removing fiber from the aeration stabilization pond (ASB) and how much are they going to remove? What will keep the fiber from building up again and where is the material being discarded?
What is a stack test? Was it performed and what are the results of the tests?
Why are there fewer monitoring stations now that New-Indy is doing the monitoring?
Why was New-Indy allowed to start up the plant without a foul condensate stripper?
Hydrogen Sulfide Q&A with Dr. Christopher Teaf
President & Director of Toxicology, Hazardous Substance & Waste Management Research, Inc.
1. What is hydrogen sulfide? Does hydrogen sulfide exist in nature or is it a “man-made” chemical? What are some possible sources of hydrogen sulfide?
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) occurs naturally. H2S and related reduced sulfides, are produced when bacteria break down organic material such as plant or animal tissues where oxygen is limited (e.g., swamps, wetlands). It is not an unusual substance, and occurs in nature, as well as from some industrial sources. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 75 to 250 million tons per year of H2S are released from all land and ocean sources, including natural sources, industrial petroleum processing, geothermal energy production, tanneries, and paper mills of various types.
2. How easy is it to smell hydrogen sulfide, compared to other odors? Why do people refer to “rotten eggs” as the odor associated with hydrogen sulfide?
H2S is easily detected by smell compared to other odors. The fact that you are smelling an odor does not mean that it is causing you harm. While the reported detection threshold for H2S in air for most people is in the range of 1 to 10 parts per billion (ppb), a very wide range from 0.5 to 300 ppb often is reported. Rotten eggs produce hydrogen sulfide and other reduced sulfur compounds when they decompose.
3. Can you be harmed by H2S if you cannot smell it? Is it similar to carbon monoxide?
H2S is not similar to carbon monoxide, which is a completely odorless gas. Generally, it is not possible to be harmed by H2S if you do not smell it. Even when the odor is detectable, in situations where people can move around freely, H2S is almost never a health issue. In other words, even if you do smell H2S, it does not mean that what you are smelling is harmful. Most of the time it is not.
4. How is hydrogen sulfide created? Is hydrogen sulfide always a gas? Does hydrogen sulfide exist in water? Should I be concerned that hydrogen sulfide may occur in household water?
H2S is a gas under normal circumstances. It dissolves in water, but its vapor pressure causes it to leave water quickly. There are no federal or state drinking water standards for H2S, and it is of health interest only in rare situations. If H2S taste or odor is present in water supplies, it is treated by filtration or oxidation. Occasionally, H2S is produced in homes by sulfate bacteria in electric hot water heaters. H2S is also formed as a natural product in our bodies, for example “morning breath” and intestinal gas.
5. Does hydrogen sulfide have any beneficial uses?
H2S occurs naturally, is used industrially to produce sulfuric acid and elemental sulfur and can be used to produce “heavy water” for nuclear plants. It has protective and beneficial characteristics in Alzheimer’s models and some other studies.
6. At what level is hydrogen sulfide dangerous to humans and pets? Does prolonged exposure to low H2S concentrations cause health issues for humans and pets? Is intermittent or occasional exposure to small to intermediate levels of hydrogen sulfide unhealthy? Are the elderly, the young and people with compromised immune systems more likely to suffer adverse health effects from either prolonged or intermittent exposure to hydrogen sulfide?
H2S typically is addressed as an odor, not a health concern. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) set a Minimal Risk Level (MRL) for H2S at 70 ppb to protect sensitive portions of our population, such as the elderly or young. H2S air levels below 70 ppb may be detectable by smell, but are not harmful to people or pets, even if exposures are common, or if brief, infrequent exceedances occur. The 70 ppb MRL does not mean that levels above 70 ppb necessarily are harmful. Rather, it is a conservative guideline for sensitive members of the population.
7. What are the health effects associated with hydrogen sulfide exposure? Do the health effects end after exposure ceases?
Exposure to concentrations of hydrogen sulfide greater than the MRL of 70 ppb in air for periods of time exceeding several weeks may cause transient and mild irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, which are reversible when exposure ceases. Individuals who are unable to smell H2S do not experience such responses.
Short-term exposures to H2S at concentrations of parts per million or higher (1 ppm = 1,000 ppb) have been reported to occasionally cause nausea, headaches, disturbed equilibrium, neurobehavioral changes, olfactory paralysis, loss of consciousness, and tremors, depending on the levels. While some persistent effects have been reported in workers exposed to H2S at high levels for long periods, effects from environmental exposures are reversible.
8. What should I do if I smell hydrogen sulfide inside my home? Outside my home?
If you are outdoors when you smell H2S, you may wish to go indoors temporarily to avoid the smell. Because it is a relatively common airborne substance, and often is associated with sewage treatment plants, sewage lift stations, decomposing vegetable matter, landfills and some industrial activities, it often is detectable near these facilities. If smells are localized indoors, ventilating the home typically is beneficial, assuming that there is not a continuing source in the home itself (e.g., hot water heater or water supply).
9. What is the most effective way to remove H2S from the home if it is entering from the outside?
Air filtration devices are available for residential applications and would be expected to help dissipate H2S odors, both existing and new.
10. Does the federal government regulate hydrogen sulfide? Is hydrogen sulfide a pollutant under federal law? Other than workplace limits imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the federal government-imposed exposure limits for hydrogen sulfide? What are the exposure guidelines for hydrogen sulfide?
The workplace OSHA concentration for H2S is 20,000 ppb (20 ppm), based on a 15-minute time-weighted average. Other regulatory agencies have developed guidelines for H2S, including in occupational and environmental circumstances. There are no federal standards for air (other than for petroleum refining facilities), but protective guidelines have been recommended at the MRL of 70 ppb, which is the safe level for exposures of less than or equal to 14 days.
11. Is H2S considered a toxic substance under federal law?
H2S is not regulated by federal law according to air concentrations. There are Clean Air Act requirements related to H2S release prevention and planning. Therefore, H2S release is regulated for reporting and planning purposes beyond threshold quantities, but not by air concentration. There are also federal Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) that apply in the workplace, but not outdoor air.
12. Is hydrogen sulfide likely to affect me or my family? If I smell “rotten eggs” am I in danger? Do I need to wear personal protective equipment if I encounter hydrogen sulfide?
In situations where people can move around freely, H2S is almost never a health issue, though the odor of H2S is easily detected. Protective equipment is not necessary except for some enclosed industrial operations.
13. Each year, how many people in the United States die from exposure to hydrogen sulfide? How many people in the U.S. each year suffer adverse health effects from exposure to hydrogen sulfide? Where do those situations typically happen?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated fewer than 50 fatalities during the period from 2011 to 2017, approximately 8 per year. The cases typically are attributed to industrial accidents or entry into confined spaces containing high levels of H2S.
14. What other resources are available if I would like additional information on hydrogen sulfide?
There are many sources of information regarding H2S, ranging from simple and straightforward to highly detailed and complex. These include:
ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry). 2016a. Toxicological Profile for Hydrogen Sulfide and Carbonyl Sulfide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, GA.
ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry). 2016b. Tox Guide for Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Atlanta, GA.
ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry). 2016c. Public health Statement: Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Atlanta, GA.
California ARB (California Air Resources Board). 2021. Hydrogen Sulfide & Health.
MN DOH (Minnesota Department of Health). 2019. Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfur Bacteria in Well Water: Well Management Program. August 2019.
2021 Mill Operations Timeline
Prior to 2020, the New-Indy Catawba mill produced mostly white paper, which was used by customers to print magazines, catalogs and similar materials. Last year, New-Indy converted portions of the mill to manufacture unbleached containerboard, which is used by customers to produce various packaging products. The mill was completely offline from May to September 2020 during the conversion process. The first stage of restarting production began in December and by February 1, 2021, the mill had restored operations. On February 8, 2021, New-Indy Catawba LLC sent DHEC a letter notifying it that New-Indy Catawba began operations of all equipment except the No. 2 Paper Machine within 15 days prior to that letter.
Week of: February 1
Week of: March 1
- Full mill odor survey conducted by external consultant
Week of: March 8
Week of: April 5
Week of: April 19
Week of: May 3
- Brought foul condensate steam stripper back into service
- Optimized calcium nitrate supplementation (split feed)
- Enhanced surface solids removal in ASB
Week of: May 10
Week of: May 24
Week of: June 7
Week of: June 14
Week of: June 21
Week of: June 28
- Continued surface solids removal and aerator repairs
Weeks of: July 12 & July 19
Week of: August 9
Week of: September 13
Week of: September 27
- CEG meeting with presentations on air dispersion modeling and community outreach
Week of: October 18
Week of: October 25
- Initiated operation of a hydrogen peroxide diffuser running the length of #1 Holding Pond
- CEG meeting with presentation on New-Indy’s Voluntary Cleanup Contract (VCC) and the environmental assessment New-Indy Catawba made just prior to its acquisition of the Catawba mill
Week of: November 15
|ASB||Aeration Stabilization Basin||Biological stabilization of wastewater organics|
|CEG||Community Engagement Group||Build trust and confidence with local citizens and other stakeholders and establish an effective and regular dialogue with the local community|
|EPA||Environmental Protection Agency||US environmental agency|
|EQ Basin||Equalization Stabilization Basin||Used as a means of buffering or equalizing the characteristics of wastewater prior to entering the wastewater treatment system|
|H2S||Hydrogen Sulfide||Chemical targeted for ambient air monitoring|
|PAB||Post Aeration Basin||Final aeration polishing basin prior to discharge to Catawba River|
|PM3||Paper Machine 3||Production equipment where linerboard is made from pulp slurry|
|SCDHEC||South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control||South Carolina state environmental agency|
New-Indy Catawba Community Engagement Group
The New-Indy Catawba Community Engagement Group (CEG) was formed in June 2021 and is comprised of individuals who live in communities surrounding the mill. Membership is distributed among local environmental leaders, members of surrounding businesses, concerned local citizens and New-Indy employees.
The CEG held its first meeting on June 28, 2021 and convenes regularly with the following objectives in mind:
- To establish an effective and regular dialogue between the local community surrounding the mill and New-Indy Catawba management.
- To build trust and confidence with local citizens and other stakeholders that New-Indy Catawba is firmly committed to operating in a safe and sustainable manner, which will have a positive impact on the local community.
CEG Meeting Recaps
JUNE 28: The first CEG meeting was introductory in nature and the group discussed many of the issues raised in the community surrounding the mill at that time. Members offered ideas to New-Indy management on the best ways to communicate clear and reliable information to local citizens. A key goal that the CEG and New-Indy management are working toward is establishing a structured way for members of the community to report important information related to their concerns directly to New-Indy management for further examination.
The CEG was updated on the ongoing DHEC and EPA orders and briefed by New-Indy management on the work that was being done to comply.
AUGUST 9: New-Indy Catawba offered a tour of the mill to the CEG. Following the tour, the group discussed ongoing operations with New-Indy management. Several new CEG members were in attendance and introduced themselves. Representatives from SCDHEC were in attendance and addressed questions from the CEG. New-Indy also provided an update during the meeting on the company’s plans to update its website with information that addresses concerns within the community, educational resources on the paper-making process and daily air quality monitoring reports.
SEPTEMBER 13: New-Indy Catawba representatives offered mill site updates, displayed recent website modifications and explained plans to further the company’s communications efforts. A toxicologist was in attendance to explain global H2S sources, H2S characteristics and toxicology, and regulatory challenges and guidelines. A wastewater treatment expert conducted a presentation for the CEG regarding pulp and paper wastewater treatment, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and how H2S is maintained in the paper-making environment. The toxicologist and wastewater treatment expert also answered questions from CEG members following their presentations.
OCTOBER 18: Similar to the September CEG meeting, the session began with mill site updates and a review of recent website adjustments, highlighted by a new infographic map and a newsletter. An air dispersion modeling expert provided an explanation on how modeling works, what the model inputs are, evaluating model results, and how those factors apply to the New-Indy air dispersion model. A community outreach consultant described the process of responding to citizen odor complaints, how complaint data is gathered and logged, and how the collected information is used.
NOVEMBER 15: The session commenced with an update on mill operations that included solids removal continuing in the ASB and EQ Basin, as well as a survey conducted in the ASB to scan the basin floor to locate subsurface solids and relocate aerators accordingly. Stack testing emissions results were within compliance measures and New-Indy is exploring ways to optimize performance of the condensate steam stripper. Recent website alterations include a new color scheme, weekly posts to convey site updates and a social media feed to provide real-time updates to the community. An environmental consultant presented on New-Indy’s Voluntary Cleanup Contract (VCC) and the environmental assessment New-Indy Catawba made just prior to its acquisition of the Catawba mill. The consultant also explained the VCC program and how New-Indy has been working through the VCC process.
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New-Indy will notify the public about operational activity that may result in changes in emissions from the Catawba Mill. Any such notices will be posted in this section.
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on September 23, 2021
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on September 17, 2021
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on September 16, 2021
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on August 16, 2021
- Status on SCDHEC Order – 6/18/21
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on June 18, 2021
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on June 9, 2021
- Public Notification of Planned Activity on June 8, 2021
- New-Indy Catawba’s Updated Website Offers New, Daily Information — 11.18.21
- Lawmakers visit New-Indy Catawba — 9.17.21
- Statement from New-Indy — 9.3.21
- Statement from New-Indy — 7.12.21
- Statement from New-Indy — 5.14.21
New-Indy has a dedicated phone line for reporting concerns or feedback about our operations. Please call 803.670.2001 and make sure to tell us your name, phone number and the reason for your outreach. If you would like to report an odor observation, please fill out the submission form below. Complete information will enable us to evaluate the issue thoroughly and follow up as needed.