Report finished with recommendations for Titan air permit qualifications

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina Division of Air Quality has completed its report on public hearings held regarding a cement plant proposed for the Castle Hayne area of New Hanover County. The hearings took place on September 27 & 29 in Wilmington, and featured dozens of residents speaking out against Carolinas Cement Company's plans to build the plant.

Patrick E. Butler, the Hearing Officer, finished his report with nine recommendations, suggesting the DAQ "review and address comments made by the applicant with respect to the air permit and air permit review."

Butler's recommendations cover several issues, including DAQ seeking a legal evaluation on whether it can issue the new permit to Carolinas Cement before an environmental review is done under the National Environmental Protection Act. Another centers on whether the company  properly followed guidelines in applying for a special use permit from New Hanover County.

According to Tom Mather, a spokesman with the DAQ, the final decision on whether to award Carolinas Cement Company with an air quality permit with rest with Sheila Holman, the Director of the NCDAQ. Mather had no timetable on when that decision could be reached.

"Basically what he (Butler) is doing is directing our staff to do more analysis before the director makes a final decision," Mather said in a phone interview. "It's another step in the process."

Mather added that generally Holman will go along with the recommendations made by officers in these cases. He said that when it comes to securing permits for large facilities like the one proposed by Carolinas Cement, it is not unusual for it to be a drawn out process.

Opponents have spoken out against the proposed plant since the plans were first announced. They claim the operation has too many potential health and environmental dangers. Supporters say Carolinas Cement, a subsidiary of Titan America, will provide much-needed jobs to the local economy.

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