NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Environmentalists are on edge – speaking out against the state's extension agreement for the proposed Titan Cement Plant.
The North Carolina Division of Air Quality recently approved a revised air permit for a proposed cement plant in Castle Hayne.
Over 400 people shared their thoughts on the plant at a public hearing last month. Since then, nearly 900 people have weighed in by sending comments to the state, and all but a small percent are in opposition.
Supporters say it will bring jobs and industry, but some environmental groups tell us that it comes at a cost.
The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest environmental grassroots organization in the country. They've been fighting against Titan for more than five years now and organizer, Zachary Keith says they're not showing any signs of slowing down.
"There's a clear showing that the Wilmington community does not feel like this was the right choice," said Keith. "The state chose to put the permit extension before the health and citizens of this community."
The next step for the Carolinas Cement Company is starting construction. This decision will give the company more time to begin that process. Along with the revisions, the facility now meets new requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Sierra Club says the new permit revisions will create more pollutants in the air and in the water.
"In the original air permit, they said they could have the lowest levels of emissions and claim to be the cleanest cement plant in the world," said Keith. "But right after the federal standards changed, Titan went back to the state wanting higher emissions so it's clear evidence of the company saying one thing and doing another and not putting the health of this community first."
Keith says the Sierra Club and other organizations won't give up their fight against Titan.
"The Wilmington community is not going to let this issue go," said Keith. "It's encouraging that people are concerned about health and the future of the community so going forward, people will still be engaged in this process and other decisions to be made."
While opponents are arguing the environmental impact, Titan is pushing the positive economic impact. The company says the business will create more than 160 jobs and pump more than $120 million into the county's economy each year.
Before moving forward, Titan still must acquire more permits from the state and county level.
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