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Titan Cement: EPA Raises Concerns, Gov. Perdue Seeks Investigation

Winter 2009

Wilmington – The Stop Titan Action Network (STAN) has organized a network of over 200 physicians in opposition to the proposed cement plant, which would be the fourth largest in the US, and a massive flow of calls and comments on the draft Title V air permit for the facility, drawing ever-wider concern about the permit and the regulatory process.

Earlier this fall, EPA commented that the newly permitted facility could contribute significantly to air quality violations in the region. As EPA develops long-overdue standards for cement plant operations, including mercury and other toxic emissions, federal regulators pointed out that the draft permit doesn’t incorporate the proposed stricter standards. NC Air Quality officials have the authority to apply those pending standards, and the haste to grant this permit and even exempt the permit from SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) review appear to indicate strong bias toward industry in the agency, as many environmental advocates have charged.

Gov. Perdue responded to letters and calls from whistleblowers and activists with a request for investigation of the permitting process by the State Bureau of Investigation. We’re not convinced that this is the appropriate body to investigate “undue influence,” or if they will be politically able to make that determination in the face of previous state and local incentives for the project, but it’s a start. The call for temporary halt in all permitting for the facility is critical, too. Without it, Titan could invest heavily in starting construction under a weak permit, making the barriers to stopping the project even more difficult.

Titan officials claim the plant would create hundreds of new jobs in a down economy, but neighborhood surveys carried out close to the proposed site by Stop Titan and CWFNC earlier this year showed much greater concern for the environmental safety of their families than support for speculative jobs.