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Titan Cement pulls plug on new facility in Castle Hayne; opponents of project declare victory

A portion of the proposed site on the Northeast Cape Fear River where Titan America was looking to build a cement plant. The existing structures are remnants of the defunct Ideal Cement Plant.

Titan Cement has scrapped its plans to build a new cement manufacturing facility in northern New Hanover County. 

In a statement released midday on Thursday, Titan America's CEO, Bill Zarkalis, said basic economics no longer support the project.  That’s partly because the cost to construct a new cement plant in the United States has risen substantially in the past few years, according to the statement, and new coastal capacity in North Carolina could erode the market with cement imports – likely, says Zarkalis, because of the strong U.S. dollar, the global cement supply, and low ocean freight costs.  

When news of a cement plant coming to Castle Hayne broke nearly eight years ago, it galvanized environmentalists into a force that became known as the Stop Titan Action Network.  The proposed facility launched a divisive and ongoing debate in the county over the role of the Special Use Permit, strategies for economic growth, and whether those two ideas are at loggerheads.  Opponents of the plant argued the facility would bring a minimal number of jobs in exchange for polluted air and water; supporters insisted smart growth must include a diverse range of industries – including heavy industry.  

Titan officials say its parent company, the Titan Group, is committed to long-term growth in the U.S.  All existing North Carolina operations will continue, they say, and no jobs in these operations will be affected by this decision. 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.