- Posted January 1, 2012 by
Wilmington, North Carolina
Titan and the Tale of Two Cities
What could the cities of Wilmington, NC and Alexandria, Egypt possibly have in common? And how did citizens from each of those communities find a way to connect almost 6000 miles apart in two different continents?
Titan Cement is a Greek multibillion dollar corporation with assets that include 11 cement production facilities; 4 located in Greece, 2 in the USA , 3 in Southeastern Europe and 2 in Egypt.
Titan America has proposed to build a third cement plant in the U.S. in southeastern North Carolina.This plant would be one of the largest cement plants in the US.
The people living in and around Wilmington, NC have been waging a battle for over three years to stop the building of this plant. The majority of the community is adamantly opposed to allowing this heavy polluting industry into their community; the plant would emit over 140 toxins into the air and water, sit atop the aquifer that supplies the main source of drinking water, destroy thousands of acres of wetlands and be located on the banks of the Cape Fear River in a section that is already mercury-impaired and is within 5 miles of where over 8000 children attend school . (Visit www.stoptitan.org for more)
The citizens of Alexandria, Egypt have been waging their own battle against Titan Cement. They have been living the reality that Wilmington is trying to avoid. Polluted air, contaminated water, cement dust that covers everything, and children sick with respiratory illnesses.
Through the power of Face Book, these two cities have discovered each other and their common bond in battling for their right to breathe clean air, drink safe water and ensure a healthy environment for their children’s future.
These communities share another bond too; their belief in the power of people to make change.They believe they have a right to demand that people are more important than profits and corporation’s rights do not supersede the rights of the people who live, work and raise their families under the shadow of their polluting smokestacks.
Ahmad, an English speaking Egyptian active in the fight against Titan in Alexandria, recently reached out to Kayne, the founder of Citizens Against Titan, the citizens group fighting Titan America. Their bond reaches beyond their differences of culture, background and experiences; they are the same in their desire to help their communities fight for what they believe is just and right.
The citizens of Alexandria, exercising newfound freedoms since last year's revolution, have been rallying against Titan Alexandria for several months. In December, 2011, hundreds of protesters blocked off the streets for over three hours. Some of them held signs that looked very familiar to Wilmingtonians- they were emailed to Ahmad from NC, who printed them out for protesters in Egypt.
Meanwhile in Wilmington, Kayne has been fighting her own personal battle against Titan. She is the victim of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit filed by Titan Cement .[http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20110304/ARTICLES/110309791] . She and a local doctor were sued for factual comments they made at a local government meeting. These two individuals are in the unfathomable postion of defending their right in court to speak their grievances to their elected officials and must fight this billion dollar foreign corporation who has tried to silence them and intimidate their entire community. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MofHuCRRoZw
In Egypt, Ahmad tells Kayne she is lucky to have only been sued by Titan. He has been threatened with much worse in Titan's attempt to silence him. And now he and several other protesters have been accused of serious crimes against Titan and their Alexandria facility related to the December rally. Charges they have denied. The people of Alexandria face struggles and perils for speaking out that go far beyond anything citizens in North Carolina could even imagine. Yet, just as in Wilmington, they refuse to be intimidated and have already staged a second protest. Their resolve, coupled with Titan's many transgressions, have finally won them the support of some important Egyptian government officals and the voice of the people may finally be heard.
However, Titan's money and influence run deep and Titan officials are not happy that the people of Alexandria have been in contact with the Stop Titan group here in the US. Titan Alexandria has been polluting the neighborhoods of Alexandria without interference for a long time and will not concede easily. The citizens of Wilmington and Alexandria are both facing a long battle ahead.
Two groups, worlds apart but united by their efforts to protect their citizens, their environment and especially their children. Who can say how their stories will end?