By Krys Estes
The North Carolina Coastal Federation gathered members of the community to Battleship Park on Sunday, May 22 to celebrate the victory in stopping the construction of a cement process plant by Titan America in Castle Hayne.
The Titan-Free Jamboree featured live music, free food and family-friendly activities, which organizers said went to recognize eight years of support from volunteers and the community to oppose the project.
“This is a community-wide event celebrating the fact that the community has a voice and how we want our community to be designed,” said Jennifer Salter, North Carolina Coastal Federation clean communities organizer. “Titan was a threat to our community in many ways, so when Titan finally pulled out, we wanted to get the community together and share that our voices mattered in this.”
On March 10, Titan announced it would end efforts to build the controversial plant. A month later, the N.C. Court of Appeals approved the North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality dismissal of the permit application, formally ending the long process.
Mike Giles, advocate for N.C. Coastal Federation, said eight years ago it was revealed that the cement company was requesting government funding to build the cement plant, with little notice.
“The community got fired up and we stood up and said ‘No, we don’t want you to do this,’” Giles said.
Giles said the county forced a delay in the project. Shortly after, the Stop Titan Coalition was formed by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch, Citizens Against Titan, Penderwatch & Conservancy, N.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center and Duke University’s Environmental Law & Policy Clinic to stop the plant from being built and allow the community to express their apprehensions with the proposed project.
“The situation had a life of its own,” Giles said. “People were heated about not being involved in the decisions that affect their community.”
However, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said the air permit approved by the department would have required state-of-the-art air pollution controls, and the department conducted extensive analyses showing the facility would comply with all applicable air-quality standards and regulations.
The department said it conducted a series of public hearings on the proposed permit for the Titan facility that were attended by thousands of local residents. The department held two hearings on Oct. 20, 2009, and three more hearings on Sept. 27 and 29, 2011.
Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear River Keeper for the Cape Fear River Watch, said they focus primarily on water and river issues and the plant was a huge concern for the group.
“When a community works together, we really do make a difference in the community, especially with what truly matters to us,” Salter said.