Perdue Administration Decides: No Complete Review of Titan Cement Plant’s Environmental Impact
Rejecting a request from several groups representing residents in the affected areas, Governor Perdue’s Department of Administration this week ruled that the full environmental impact of the proposed Titan America cement plant on surrounding areas–including New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties—does not need to be examined before North Carolina begins issuing permits for the plant.
“North Carolina taxpayers are contributing millions of dollars to this plant and deserve to know how it will affect their air, water, and health before the state starts issuing permits – Administration’s decision denies that comprehensive review,” said Geoff Gisler, attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center.
Among the groups concerned by toxic emissions—including mercury—from the proposed plant are the North Carolina Coastal Federation and Cape Fear River Watch represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“By not insisting that Titan must be regulated by our own Environmental Policy Act, the Department of Administration has performed a serious disservice to our citizens and the environment that the state is entrusted to protect,” said Doug Springer, CAPE FEAR RIVERKEEPER ®, Cape Fear River Watch.
On September 10, 2009, the groups filed a formal request with the N.C. Department of Administration asking that the environmental impacts of the project, which is partially funded by taxpayers, be studied before the state issues any permits. The N.C. Environmental Policy Act requires all projects involving state action and public funds with potential environmental impact to be studied prior to permitting.
“A project that threatens to upset our coastal ecosystem and jeopardize public health long into the future requires careful, comprehensive review,” said Mike Giles, Cape Fear Coastkeeper, N.C. Coastal Federation.
The state and New Hanover County, where the cement kiln and mine will be located, have awarded Titan America $300,000 and $4.2 million respectively in support of the project. The Department of Administration’s rejected the request based on a finding that these grants, though paid through taxpayer dollars, do not constitute an expenditure of public money.
Located on the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear River in Castle Hayne, the proposed kiln and mine would be the fourth largest cement plant in the country and is expected to be a significant source of toxic emissions such as mercury and hydrochloric acid in addition to destroying approximately 1,000 acres of wetlands.
North Carolina already lists the Northeast Cape Fear River as impaired by mercury contamination. As a ‘blackwater river,’ it constitutes an ecosystem that a recent U.S. Geological Survey study found to be particularly vulnerable to mercury contamination.
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.
About North Carolina Coastal Federation The North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF) is the state’s only non-profit organization focused exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat restoration and preservation. www.nccoast.org
About Cape Fear River Watch Cape Fear River Watch was founded in 1993 and began as a nonprofit organization, open to everyone, dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the health, beauty, cleanliness, and heritage of the Cape Fear River Basin. CFRW’s mission is to “protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River Basin through education, advocacy and action.” CFRW supports the work of the Cape Fear RIVERKEEPER, a member of the WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE.