Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email Posted by Debra Worley - email
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - State Senator Julia Boseman introduced a bill Thursday that could slow down plans for Titan America to build a plant in the area.
The bill calls for a moratorium on permits until the summer of 2010.
Boseman wants to wait for results of a mercury study, due out next year, before allowing Titan to move forward.
"From all the information I've gotten from the Coastal Federation and other folks, it's just horrible for our environment and we need to do whatever we can to protect our environment," said Boseman. "You know, the effect if could have on mercury emissions, on our aquifer, we just don't know."
Bob Odom, the general manager of the cement plant, declined an interview regarding the bill, but did issue a statement saying:
Carolinas Cement came here by invitation from the State and New Hanover County under the current laws and regulations, which we have promised to follow along with any future regulations. We are disappointed and concerned by this latest development.
Mike Giles with the North Carolina Coastal Federation is pleased with the bill. He says creating jobs quickly is not the best plan when the health of the environment can be compromised.
"Right now we do need the jobs," said Giles. "The Coastal Federation and other groups and the citizens in this area aren't against jobs. What we're for is the right kind of growth, the right kind of development."
Supporters of the bill say they just want more time.
"I think that the county commissioners rushed into this, didn't have all the information needed," said Giles. "They just saw it was jobs and jumped on it."
Boseman hopes the bill will slow the process down and help the county get the right mix of growth and environmental responsibility.
Senate bill 699 has been referred to the committee of agriculture, environment, and natural resources.
Titan America proposed to build a cement plant in Castle Hayne last year, but no final decision has been made.
Commissioners want the plant here but local environmentalists say the risk is too high.
According to New Hanover County Commissioners, bringing Titan America to the Wilmington area will boost the economy and provide dozens of local residents with new high-paying jobs.
Opponents say the plant will threaten the area's vulnerable environment by polluting the air and producing mercury that can cause a range of health risks.