The High Cost of Titan’s Cement in North Carolina
Titan America—the Greek cement manufacturer hoping to get an air permit from North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality—likes to tout the estimated 160 jobs their super-sized cement plant will create if they are allowed to build near Wilmington, North Carolina. But according to a new report conducted by a leading industry consultant based in Fairfax, Virginia, the Titan plant will be creating much more than jobs for the good citizens of the Cape Fear region.
The study issued last week details a host of serious public health impacts, as well as millions of dollars in health care costs associated with Titan’s pollution. Specifically it estimated 530 cases of acute respiratory symptoms (such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath), 320 lost days of work, and 160 lost school or camp days. And that’s just from ozone-causing emissions. Estimates for health impacts associated with fine particulate matter (PM2.5) come out to 320 cases of acute respiratory symptoms and 54 lost days of work.
Most concerning is that one person in the tri-county area of New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender, could die from exposure to Titan’s pollution from May through September (when ozone impacts are highest) for each year the plant is in operation.
The report puts the total estimated health costs of impacts associated with increases in fine particle matter and ozone-causing pollutants for the three counties somewhere between $6.3 and $6.7 million per year, but it’s only a snapshot of Titan’s full potential. Imagine if it included all 50 or more toxic air emissions associated with the Titan plant and mine.
The study was conducted on behalf of citizens in the Cape Fear region. Known collectively as the Stop Titan Action Network, the citizens group represents numerous environmental organizations, thousands of residents and hundreds of local physicians and businesses. The study confirms statements by Dr. David Hill, a Wilmington pediatrician, who is being hit with a SLAPP suit for saying if the Titan plant is built more children and adults will get sick and some will die. Another citizen, Kayne Darrell, is part of the same suit, which seeks more than $ 75,000 dollars in damages.
I wonder who will get sick or die because of the emissions from this project? Immediately I think of the thousands of students attending school and playing on the many athletic fields near the proposed plant, or the neighborhoods nearby where tens of thousands of retirees and families with young children live. Of course, Titan’s pollution won’t just impact children and the elderly. Healthy residents of any age are at risk, as are tourists. Which means if you like to visit our beaches in the summer, you might want to pack your inhaler with your bathing suit and sunscreen should Titan come to town.
Ignoring the real cost to communities who have to live with heavy polluting industries is not leadership. This is especially true in communities like ours where heavy polluting industries share close quarters with children, the elderly or minority populations that have little resources to handle the devastating health and financial costs associated with these facilities.
Yes we need jobs. We need clean air and unpolluted water, too. We should be able to have both, but we won’t as long as elected officials are intent on trading public health and the environment just so billion-dollar corporations can put more cash in their pockets.
For details on the health impacts study and how to get involved in the Stop Titan fight, please go to www.stoptitan.org
This guest post was written by Kelly Stryker, mother and activist against Titan Cement. Stryker was one of the original contributors to www.stoptitan.org and continues to research, fact-check and write for the Stop Titan Action Network.