Titan America Cement Plant

Titan Cement: The plant would require the destruction of some 1,000 acres of wetlands in the NE Cape Fear River.


Photo © Cape Fear River Watch

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EPA sends warning to state enviro agency in N.C. More »

The efforts of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality to block citizen review of environmental permits have drawn the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a recent letter to the DEQ, EPA noted that, depending on the outcomes of two cases, they could revoke the state’s authority to administer federal water and air permits. According to EPA, the recent decisions in a case concerning a permit authorizing air pollution emissions by cement producer Titan America and a case arising from a permit to discharge mining waste in Blounts Creek “interpret provisions of North Carolina’s Administrative Procedure Act in ways that may unduly restrict the ability of citizens to pursue judicial appeal of state-issued permits.” SELC is representing citizens groups in both of these cases.

“The whole point of these suits is the right of citizens to have an impartial court to determine if the state followed the law in issuing the permit,” said Derb Carter, Director of SELC’s North Carolina offices.

According to a story about the letter in the Raleigh News & Observer, "this is the first such warning to North Carolina since the federal government authorized the state to oversee air and water regulation in the 1970s. If the federal government were to follow through, North Carolina would be among a handful of states that have been deemed incapable, or unwilling, to enforce federal anti-pollution laws."

Read the News & Observer editorial on the EPA warning.

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A New Mercury Threat for the Cape Fear Basin

Titan America has proposed building one of the largest cement plants in the nation near Wilmington, North Carolina. Comprising a cement kiln and an expanded rock quarry, the plant would require the destruction of some 1,000 acres of wetlands and would be a major new source of mercury pollution in the Northeast Cape Fear River—a waterway already impaired by the dangerous neurotoxin. The facility would also emit significant quantities of other pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, cancer-causing benzene, and hydrochloric acid, as well as heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

Avoidable Harm

SELC and its clients challenged the state air-quality permits for the plant that failed the state's legal responsibility to protect people from avoidable harm by not requiring the proposed Titan America cement plant in New Hanover County to reduce its pollution to the maximum extent possible. A recent scientific study shows the project will have a serious negative impact on the environment and people's health in area communities.

A Hazard for Human Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight percent of American women of childbearing age have mercury in their bodies at levels high enough to put their babies at risk of birth defects, loss of IQ, learning disabilities, and developmental problems. Toxic mercury accumulates in people and wildlife when they breathe contaminated air and eat contaminated fish.