My Turn, Your Turn: Titan Cement

By Gary McNair - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It seems to me like there are people out there who will oppose just about anything - just for the sake of opposing it.   And I think that might be what's happening with Titan Cement.

This spring, when the company announced it wanted to expand its business and open up a plant in Castle Hayne, a bunch of people instantly came out to try to stop them.

I understand the concept that any type of industrial plant scares environmentalists.  But many times these same people use sketchy information and distort the facts to intentionally scare others.

Here are the facts.  Long before Titan can open, they will have to jump through dozens of hoops.  These regulations are scientifically based - rigid - and designed to protect our environment.  I say we let the experts decide.  And if Titan meets all those requirements, they should be able to operate their business.

Already the company has held public meetings and answered tough questions.  And as we discovered when we sent a reporter to their Troutville, Virginia operation, they have a good history there with regards to the environment.

The demand for cement will not go down and this plant could mean 160 new jobs for our area.  My support for Titan isn't written in cement.  But I'm certainly willing to give them a chance.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me, here.

In response Doug Springer said:

Mr. McNair,

Your "My Turn, Your Turn" commentary of October 16, while interesting and certain to provoke discussion, was sadly misinformed and misinforming.  I do apologize if this sounds harsh, but this is not what I have come to expect from WECT. So please take my concerns in earnest as I am not one to write letters to the editor or respond to every occasion.  Each of the three "facts" on which you based your comments can and should be challenged.  As Cape Fear RIVERKEEPER© and Executive Director of Cape Fear River Watch, Inc., allow me to make the following observations:

1)      You assertion that "Titan has held public meetings and answered tough questions" is amusing to anyone who has tried to investigate the issue.  Titan has steadfastly avoided any forum where they may be called on to publically respond to conflicting opinions, opposing science or unanticipated public comment. Visible examples of this to the community were when they backed out of public forums sponsored by the Star News, and the again with the Women League of Voters. Instead, they appear only in tightly scripted settings where they may respond not to actual questions or criticisms, but only to questions and criticisms filtered, restated and rephrased by Titan's Public Relations Department.

Cape Fear River Watch met with Titan representatives several times following the surprise April announcement. We left each meeting with more questions than when we entered. Straight answers are not Titan's stock in trade - evasion, misdirection and denial are their strengths and they have continued to play to those strengths.

2)      You are absolutely correct when you say that Titan has a good history at their Troutville location. But Troutville is not Wilmington. The geology, topography and scale of operations are completely different.  It's not an apples to oranges comparison; it's an apples to alligators comparison. Have a closer look at Titan's Florida operation. That is a much more comparable (and much less favorable) situation.

3)      Most disturbing is your suggestion that we should just sit back and let the State and Federal regulators handle things.  The suggestion that we, who are most directly affected and have the most intimate knowledge of the area, should leave all relevant decisions in the matter to State and Federal "experts" is frankly offensive. In Southeastern North Carolina we take responsibility for our future. We take responsibility for our own economic growth and we take responsibility preserving our own environment. We do not, as you seem to suggest, simply pass the responsibility on. Hope is not a strategy that we rely on.

Our opposition to the proposed destruction of Island Creek is not a simple knee jerk response to any kind of development. Rather, it is a course to which we have come after careful investigation and a frustrating and fruitless search for common ground.  In its 15 year history, this is the first time that Cape Fear River Watch has felt it necessary to unequivocally oppose such a project. We oppose this project, not "just for the sake of opposing it" as you uncharitably suggest, but because it represents the greatest threat to continued clean air and water we have yet seen. The future of Island Creek, our drinking water, and our clean air is too important to be decided in access controlled back rooms. This issue needs to be discussed and decided in the open and in full view of the affected public.