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

Impacts from air and water contamination were driving concerns for the coalition that stood up against plans to build a polluting cement plant near Wilmington, N.C.  (© Michael Baker)

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underway, the North Carolina Court of Appeals granted SELC’s motion to dismiss since the permit in question had been withdrawn.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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