Fighting to keep Titan Cement air quality monitor in place

The anatomy of a deregulatory nightmare:

For Castle Hayne air advocates, the most worrisome proposals from the Legislature came this year. State legislators proposed to eliminate all air monitors that are not specifically required by federal environmental regulators and to limit citizens' ability to challenge air permits in court, taking away two important tools used by citizens to challenge projects they deem risky to public health. The changes were never enacted.

The air monitor provision would have eliminated an air monitor that lies across the road from the proposed cement plant and next to an experimental field for different varieties of blueberries. The monitor is 11 miles from downtown Wilmington and measures concentrations of ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants. The other provision would have hampered advocates' ability to challenge the cement plant permit's allowances of toxic air pollutants.

The battle over the Titan Cement plant is not about a handful of overzealous advocates trying to hold back industrial growth. The coal-burning monstrosity will increase the entire state's atmospheric mercury emissions by almost 10%, and it will be located in an area that is already saturated by industrial air and water pollutants. Read the entire article, it's a good one.



In case anybody's wondering

where I got that "almost 10%" thingie, a couple of years ago I spent an entire afternoon parsing the EPA's most recent NC air toxics inventory. That report is huge, and it details every single source of emitted pollutants per state, down to the smallest of sources.

The vast majority of the total atmospheric mercury emissions come from coal-burning power plants, both those that supply residents and businesses with electricity and those that exclusively power a particular factory site. Titan Cement will be in that second category, meaning all that power and all those toxic emissions will be for their own benefit, and not a trade-off that provides electricity for tens of thousands of homes.

Anyway, after tallying up the total atmospheric mercury emitted in NC, the number came to around 2,700 lbs. Titan Cement will emit somewhere around 260 lbs. per year, depending on the quality of the coal and the level of heat achieved. Ergo, a 10% increase in emissions of mercury for the whole state, with no appreciable benefits for the people of the region (or the state).