Groups say state isn't preventing pollution for proposed cement - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Groups challenge permit for cement plant in NC

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Environmental groups are challenging the state decision to issue an air quality permit for a cement plant in Castle Hayne. Environmental groups are challenging the state decision to issue an air quality permit for a cement plant in Castle Hayne.
CASTLE HAYNE, NC (WECT/AP) - -

Environmental groups are challenging the state decision to issue an air quality permit for a cement plant in Castle Hayne.

They say the state is looking to place the responsibility elsewhere when it comes to pollution associated with the proposed Titan America cement plant.

That's according to a press release from  N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch, PenderWatch & Conservancy, Sierra Club, and Southern Environmental Law Center. The groups have filed documents challenging the N.C. Division of Air Quality's air permit for the plant.

"By allowing the cement company to emit unnecessary and harmful levels of pollution, the state's permit for Titan's pollution fails residents and visitors of North Carolina and violates state and federal law," said Geoff Gisler, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents the groups. "Ignoring available pollution controls, the state granted Titan's toxic recipe to pollute the air we all breathe."

According to the groups, the air permit won't force the plant to follow pollution guidelines that could reduce its output.

"The state's legal responsibility is to protect its citizens by requiring Titan to use the best available technology to limit toxic emissions from its proposed cement plant," said Allie Sheffield, president of PenderWatch & Conservancy. "This irresponsible permit puts the health of North Carolinians unnecessarily at risk."

The groups filed the appeal with the state Office of Administrative Hearings. The N.C. Division of Air Quality issued the permit to Titan on Feb. 29.
    
That decision came after three years of fighting between the company and residents, who fear the plant's impacts on tourism and health, among other issues.
    
State regulators have said the permit has safeguards to protect the environment and human health. Titan officials have said they intend to comply with the regulations.

Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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