Press Release | August 5, 2011

Draft Air Permit for Titan Cement Plant Merits Scrutiny

Conservation groups will examine closely a draft air permit for the proposed Titan cement plant issued today by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and encourage the public to participate in the upcoming public comment period.

“In the fall of 2009, the Division of Air Quality issued a draft air permit to Titan America that failed to meet federal and state requirements,” said Geoff Gisler, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We’ll closely review whether this draft permit repeats those mistakes and, as a result, fails to protect the health of residents of southeastern North Carolina as a result.”

Proposed on the Northeast Cape Fear River in Castle Hayne, the cement kiln would be the fourth-largest cement plant in the country and a significant source of toxic emissions, such as mercury and hydrochloric acid, as well as sulfur dioxide and other pollutants that contribute to ozone pollution. The mine for the limestone to make the cement would destroy about 1,000 acres of wetlands.

Among the groups requesting the review and concerned by toxic emissions from the proposed plant are the N.C. Coastal Federation and Cape Fear River Watch represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“Even with its reduced budget, DENR has an obligation to give the public an opportunity to voice their concerns about this controversial project,” said Mike Giles, a Coastal Advocate for the N.C. Coastal Federation. “Two years ago, members of the public were turned away before speaking at the public hearing; we expect that the public hearings for this draft permit will allow those voices to be heard.”

“Wilmington and the surrounding areas are known for their great outdoor opportunities and high quality of life,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear RIVERKEEPER®, Cape Fear River Watch. “Titan’s proposed plant threatens these foundations of our community and the long-term health of the Cape Fear River.”

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 that breathe contaminated air and eat contaminated fish. Sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and ozone are known to aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions and can be particularly harmful to sensitive populations, including children and the elderly.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, North Carolina Coastal Federation, and Cape Fear River Watch are part of the Stop Titan Action Network.

Press Contacts

Geoff Gisler

Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Clean Water Program

Phone: 919-967-1450

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-967-1450
Email: ksullivan@selcnc.org