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As public comments near end, debate over cement plant continues

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The proposed cement plant in Castle Hayne has been the topic of debate for years. This morning, opponents showed how it would affect the Northeast Cape Fear River.

"This river has a lot more economic potential than one Titan or two Titans or three Titans," Mike Giles of the NC Coastal Federation said.

Several Cape Fear River experts against the proposed Titan America cement plant hosted a tour of the Northeast Cape Fear River showing hidden waterways and wetlands they say will be destroyed if Titan comes to the area.

"People come here to enjoy this, and if we ruin it, they'll go somewhere else," Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette.

Opponents to it say the plant would not only further pollute the river, but also drinking water and groundwater resources. Bob Odom, the General Manager for Titan subsidiary Carolinas Cement Company, says that is simply not true.

"We will not be discharging any processed water into the water," Odom said. "The mining operation that has been out there for 40 years has not had a negative impact on the river, nor the aquifer. Water that is coming out of the mining operation will be cleaner going into the river than the water that is in it already."

Giles says it's not only the water that will be affected by Titan.

"It's going to emit all of these wonderful, nasty pollutants out of the stack," Giles said. "The list keeps going. It's hundred of pollutants."

Odom, though, says no other cement plant in the world will have the pollution control devices Carolinas Cement will have. He insists the environment will not be negatively affected by the cement plant.

"You know, I live here too. I want to continue to live here in Wilmington. It's a great place to live. I don't want to harm myself or my kids or my family, so we're all looking out for the same thing," Odom said.

The state's draft air permit for the cement plant is still under review. You can submit comments to the Division of Air Quality until Monday. DAQ will accept written comments emailed or postmarked by Oct. 31. Written comments should be emailed to patrick.butler@ncdenr.gov or mailed to Patrick Butler, N.C. Division of Air Quality, 3800 Barrett Dr., Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27609.

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