Community Engagement Group
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
May 15, 2023: May’s New-Indy Catawba CEG meeting began with introductions and a new group member. The CEG by-laws were reviewed and a summary of New-Indy’s public affairs efforts from the past two years were summarized. An engineer joined the group virtually to explain the design and effectiveness of a new steam stripper system that will be installed in 2025. He explained how the steam stripping process works from pulp digestion to the recycling of methanol to be burned as fuel. The new steam stripper system will operate in conjunction with the existing stripper, which, to New-Indy’s knowledge, would be the first pulp mill with a dedicated backup steam stripper.
The new system is optimized for reliability and provides improvements in incineration flexibility, buffer capacity, and improved sulfur emissions control compared to the original design. It is designed for maximum, improved performance, and will generate methanol for fuel in New-Indy’s recovery boilers.
Following the steam stripper presentation, the group was updated on site operations. The facility is operating properly as dredging and solids removal continue in the ASB. The EQ Basin is on target for the completion of legacy solids by the end of June.
FEBRUARY 27, 2023: The February session featured a presentation on the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) Consent Order to Correct Undesirable Levels of Air. The filing includes updated monitoring requirements and states that the appropriate focus for evaluating future odor reports is within five miles of the New-Indy Catawba property line. To address odor reports more actively, the mill will shift to a new, dynamic air monitoring approach with a mobile monitoring system. The mobile monitor can detect H2S levels as low as one part per billion (ppb).
The long-term objective is to always keep community H2S levels below at zero ppb. Each of the eight monitors registered daily averages far below the exposure limit (70 ppb) set by the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). New-Indy also will install two on-site fence-line monitors to supplement the three that have been in place since 2021. The two new monitors will be positioned in line with the prevailing wind direction – in the southwest and northeast corners of the property.
Per terms of the Consent Decree, New-Indy will conduct summa cannister sampling that will identify the presence and quantity of hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, and dimethyl disulfide at four locations on the mill property. Summa cannister testing was previously conducted in April 2022 and hydrogen sulfide was detected at very low quantities. Methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide and dimethyl disulfide and showed “non-detect” status.
DECEMBER 12, 2022: The forestry industry of South Carolina has a $23.2 billion impact on the economy and supports more than 100,000 jobs. Forests also play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration and carbon storage. December’s Community Engagement Group meeting featured a presentation on sustainable forestry and its benefits to the environment. Growing trees in U.S. forests annually pulls 1,581 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, almost as much as annual U.S. emissions generated from burning fossil fuels for electricity.
In 2021, 88,676 log loads were delivered to New-Indy Catawba harvested from South Carolina (94%), North Carolina (6%) and Georgia (.2%). New-Indy supports sustainable forestry, which includes the practice of planting more trees than are harvested. As a result, there are more trees in South Carolina today than 100 years ago.
NOVEMBER 13, 2022: November is Native American Heritage Month, and the New-Indy Catawba Community Engagement Group recognized the ancestry and traditions of the Catawba Indian Nation with a presentation by a member of the local tribe at its monthly meeting. The Catawbas have lived on their ancestral lands along the banks of the Catawba River dating back at least 6,000 years.
The Catawba people have endured many changes throughout the years and learned to adapt and evolve with their new surroundings. Traditionally, Catawba communities were matriarchal societies. Catawba women were seen as dominant centers of their communities.
Of the 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States, the Catawba Indian Nation is the only one located in the State of South Carolina. There are currently over 3,300 enrolled members of the Nation, which has a long history and a rich culture that lives on today.
OCTOBER 17, 2022: A programs director from York Technical College delivered a presentation on the school’s apprenticeship program and partnership with New-Indy. Since the apprenticeship program partnership between the Catawba mill and York Tech began in 1984, more than 250 employees have completed the program. The course is set up as a 10,000 hour or 5-year hands-on learning curriculum but in practice, apprentices normally complete the program in 3½ years.
An apprentice graduate and mill employee since 1985 shared his testimonial about working his way up to superintendent. Being accepted into the apprenticeship program was one of the most important things to occur in his life and he conveyed that the experience gained from it helped him to prepare the next generation with crucial mentoring and instruction. The mechanical and electrical apprenticeships are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and meet the education requirements for former military service men and women to receive GI bill money while enrolled in the program. Upon completion, all apprentices are offered full-time employment. For nearly 40 years, the apprenticeship program has helped develop a strong workforce, nurture talent in specialized and high-tech career pathways, and reduce hiring and training costs for the mill. Learn more at https://www.apprenticeshipcarolina.com.
AUGUST 22, 2022: The August session included a presentation on industrial black liquor, which is a by-product of the kraft process of turning wood into pulp. The process name is derived from the German word kraft, meaning “strength”. The black liquor produced during the paper-making process is burned as biofuel in a recovery boiler to produce energy and recover cooking chemicals. In August 2021, the facility experienced a black liquor overflow in its primary containment tank and excess water in the Aeration Stabilization Basin, causing a spike in hydrogen sulfide readings. The situation was quickly addressed, and air monitor readings have been negligible or zero ever since.
To prevent future spills, New-Indy installed a sump system and is in the process of installing a 1.2-million-gallon secondary containment tank, which will significantly increase capacity and remain empty most of the time. The primary tank holds 850,000 gallons.
June 27, 2022: June’s meeting began with a site update on mill operations that included the installation of a permanent cover on the post aeration basin (PAB). This cover should provide an extra layer of protection to the other odor control mechanisms already in place. A turbulator has been positioned in the north end of the aeration stabilization basin (ASB), which will help reduce the dredging that is caused by normal aerator operations. This not only allows the dredging equipment to be primarily used in the south end of the ASB but serves the same purpose as adding oxygen to the wastewater stream.
A toxicologist provided a presentation on New-Indy Catawba’s summa cannister testing, which included analysis for methyl mercaptan. Samples for total reduced sulfur (TRS), including methyl mercaptan, were collected from three different locations over four days in four consecutive weeks in April 2022, totaling 96 samples. The analysis showed non-detect status for methyl mercaptan.
New-Indy Catawba’s environmental manager summarized a June 3 weather event that caused damage to the facility and the fence-line monitoring stations. New-Indy Catawba’s response was rapid and all H2S air monitoring and meteorological stations returned to full operation by June 8.
MAY 16, 2022: An environmental consultant attended the meeting and delivered a presentation on how New-Indy Catawba complies with NESHAP Subpart S. Among other things, this involves monthly visual inspections of the closed collection system and annual leak monitoring related to pulping condensates collection and treatment. Under the EPA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Subpart S, New-Indy was required to perform an initial compliance test within 180 days of the startup of unbleached operations. That initial test was conducted in June and July of 2021. Additional requirements include meeting ongoing compliance standards relating to operation of the steam stripper showing the facility is maintaining minimum effective steam to feed ratio (EFSR) as established in the initial or subsequent performance tests and quarterly treatment testing for biological treatment of pulping condensates through operation of the 52 aerators in the ASB.
New-Indy Catawba compares very favorably with other mills for NEHSAP compliance because New-Indy collects and controls vents from all pulping equipment, including the pulp washers, knotters, screens and deckers in their LVHC and HVLC pulping vents. New-Indy collects and controls all the named pulping condensates under Chapter 40, Section 63.446(b)(1)-(b)(5) of the Code of Federal Regulations, as opposed to most mills which collect and treat a portion of the named streams.
The consultant also explained that New-Indy has complied with these regulations and continues to do so as required by NESHAP Subpart S. Further, New-Indy must comply with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and state rules designed to control total reduced sulfur (TRS) compounds, which include hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide and dimethyl disulfide.
APRIL 4, 2022: The session began with an update on mill operations that featured news of a new, permanent P.A.B. cover scheduled to be installed at the end of the month. A communications updated was provided to the group that featured pending website renovations and a community newsletter that will be mailed out during the month. Employees of NALCO presented a corporate overview and explain the company’s core capabilities. They also described the technical aspect surrounding NALCO’s odor control program and other technologies being utilized at the mill that are saving water, fiber, and energy.
FEBRUARY 28, 2022: February’s meeting featured a presentation on misconceptions vs. reality on the New-Indy Catawba mill. Topics included air pollutants, the foul condensate steam stripper, carbon tetrachloride, methyl mercaptan, and dioxins. The presentation showed that the facility complies with state and federal air regulations, that the mill’s wastewater treatment system is closely monitored by the company and state and federal agencies to ensure compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Additionally, New-Indy Catawba has never used carbon tetrachloride as a feedstock or raw material, and that the mill has non-detect dioxin status in the plant’s wastewater since 2008. A new CEG member was also introduced to the group.
JANUARY 28, 2022: As part of the ongoing efforts by New-Indy Catawba to inform the public about its remediation efforts, a group of local media members was invited for a presentation about – and a tour of – the facility on Friday, Jan. 28. In addition to local media, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman was also guided through on a tour and State Senator Mike Fanning was in attendance for the presentation as part of January’s CEG meeting. All visitors received a full explanation of the many improvements made to the facility. These included upgrades to the wastewater treatment system and other efforts to keep hydrogen sulfide emissions minimal or zero, as they have been for months. New-Indy plans to continue to keep the community informed about its ongoing progress.
DECEMBER 13, 2021: The group meeting commenced with a new member introduction and a site update form the mill manager. All systems at the mill are in good health and solids removal from the ASB and EQ Basin are ongoing daily. The mill is also exploring the return of the combustion boiler dry ash system back to service, which would assist in a large portion of the dry ash removal. Following a communication update, the group departed for a second tour of the mill. The initial group mill tour was at the August CEG meeting. The first stop was the Leonard Chemical Superfund site, which New-Indy does not have access to, followed by a tour of the ASB. Since the group last toured the site in the summer, the aerators have returned to consistent operation levels, surface and subsurface solids removal progress is visibly evident and the haul road has been reinforced so work can continue through the winter months. Ongoing work was observed while the group asked questions and learned about future improvement projects. The tour then drove by the #4 Sludge Pond and saw where the geobags store waste material from the ASB. The stop took the group by the #1 Holding Pond where they saw the hydrogen peroxide diffuser. The final stops took the group by the primary clarifier and EQ Basin, where four excavators were working to remove waste material.
NOVEMBER 15, 2021: 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.
OCTOBER 18, 2021: 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.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2021: 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.
AUGUST 9, 2021: 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.
JUNE 28, 2021: 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.