Company abandons plans for polluting cement plant in eastern North Carolina

The Cape Fear River system will be spared from harmful air and water pollution now that Titan America has dropped its construction plans for a new cement plant. (© Cape Fear Riverwatch)

In a major development for a longstanding threat to North Carolina's coastal communities, Titan America Cement has abandoned its plans to build a new cement plant that would have been a major source of air pollution in New Hanover and Pender counties with significant health impacts.

"The citizens of New Hanover and Pender counties can now breathe easier with the threat of Titan's toxic air pollution now gone," said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler, who represents the N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch, PenderWatch & Conservancy, and Sierra Club in legal challenges to the state permit allowing harmful air pollution from the proposed facility. "According to expert analysis, the air pollution from the plant that Titan proposed to build 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. Southeastern North Carolina can now forge a new path forward built on the region's remarkable natural environment."

Titan Cement Company, a large multinational cement and building materials company based in Greece, proposed to build a large cement plant in Castle Hayne, North Carolina. The proposal not only threatened to pollute Southeastern North Carolina’s air with thousands of tons of pollution each year for the next 50 years, it would have resulted in the destruction of more than 1,000 acres of wetlands and threatened Wilmington’s long-term water supply.

Since 2008, SELC and its clients have played a lead role in challenging the plant. We filed a successful challenge under the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act in 2010. We intervened to successfully defend the EPA’s stronger rules for cement plants in 2011. Since 2012, we have been litigating the company’s three air permits. Those challenges are pending in the North Carolina Court of Appeals. We will continue that litigation unless the current air pollution permit is rescinded or expires.

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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