State environmental officials say the Northeast Cape Fear River already is polluted with mercury and can't tolerate any more from a planned cement plant.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the head of the state water quality office said federal laws would prevent the issuing of a permit for the proposed Titan America cement plant to put more mercury into an already contaminated river.
The cement maker was promised $4.5 million in incentives from the state and county if it builds the plant and creates 160 jobs. The State Bureau of Investigation is probing whether political pressure was used to speed up state permits under former Gov. Mike Easley.