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.

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Photo © Cape Fear River Watch

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Case dismissed: Polluting N.C. cement plant officially off the books More »

The lingering legal loose ends left dangling when Titan American abruptly announced it no longer planned to bring a polluting cement plant to eastern North Carolina were tied up yesterday. Before a scheduled hearing in the case could get underway, the North Carolina Court of Appeals granted SELC’s motion to dismiss since the permit in question had been withdrawn.  

Titan America revealed in early March that they were canceling their plans for the polluting plant but it wasn’t until yesterday that SELC’s four-year legal challenge to the state air permit was resolved. SELC challenged the permit on behalf of N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch, PenderWatch & Conservancy, and Sierra Club.

“For years, Titan and the Department of Environmental Quality tried to keep citizen groups from getting a hearing on significant and avoidable air pollution from this proposed plant,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “With Titan’s announcement that it has abandoned its plans and the state’s withdrawal of its authorization to build the plant, we have achieved the goal of this lawsuit—protecting citizens of New Hanover and Pender counties from Titan’s pollution when DEQ failed to do so.”

According to an expert analysis, the proposed cement plant’s air pollution would have resulted in hundreds of cases of acute respiratory symptoms, one premature death each year, and associated health costs of millions of dollars for the adjacent three county area.

The proposal not only threatened to pollute Southeastern North Carolina’s air, it also would have resulted in the destruction of more than 1,000 acres of wetlands and threatened Wilmington’s long-term water supply.

Over the last eight years, thousands of citizens have come together to demonstrate their support for protecting the region’s air, water, and way of life. The Titan proposal has inspired a new discussion about the region’s future and embracing cleaner, sustainable growth that builds on the area’s abundant natural attractions. Without the looming threat of Titan’s proposed plant, that discussion can continue to move forward.

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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.