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Environmental concerns surrounding the Rockwool Group’s operations in West Virginia has prompted area representatives to seek answers about its impact on Loudoun County.

County officials' inquiry comes after an outcry by county residents and environmentalists in August, during the Board of Supervisors' break.

“I’m very, very concerned," said Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large). "I do recognize that the EPA standards say one thing, but you know what, there’s a lot of times the EPA standards are just not enough.”

On Tuesday, the board directed county staff to prepare information for an upcoming business meeting to consider addressing the controversial stone wool manufacturing plant in West Virginia.

Residents in and around the Ranson, West Virginia, facility are concerned about the potential environmental impact of the Rockwool Group’s operations. The factory sits across from North Jefferson Elementary School and less than two miles from T.A. Lowery Elementary, Wildwood Middle and Jefferson High schools.

Jefferson County, West Virginia, officials and the West Virginia Development Authority spent 18 months working with the Denmark-based stone wool production company to help land the economic development project, according to Ranson Mayor Keith Pierson. The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved.

But after breaking ground earlier this summer, residents across the region have increasingly expressed concerns about air pollution and chemicals that could spill out from the 24-hour plant.

The group 350 Loudoun, which is part of an online international group dedicated to preserving the environment, states that Rockwell will be a major source of air pollution.

Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said Tuesday he feels confident staff will be ready to report back on Oct. 2 with the requested information.

“I don’t personally think West Virginia will give a hoot what the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors says on this,” Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg District) said. “But I do hope we will take a position in opposition to it.”

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) has also joined the list of people concerned about the plant. Comstock wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency last week, asking the agency to further examine “any and all applications in this matter to determine any areas of non-compliance and how we can ensure protection of our existing economy and communities.”

“The impact to Loudoun County could cause irreparable harm to the local economy, especially the agritourism industry. Those involved with our wine industry and our vineyards have informed me that even slight changes could significantly alter the quality of their wines, which they have spent years perfecting,” Comstock wrote.

The second-term representative also expressed concerns about residents who live in the path of “these toxins that would be spewed,” and the potential for heart and lung damage and damage to intellectual development in children.

The factory is expected operate 24 hours a day. Trent Ogilvie, president of Rockwool’s insulation business in North America, said the plant will not negatively impact residents, and the company’s plant in Mississippi has caused no harm, according to WTOP.

However, Loudoun residents have rallied against the plant. More than 7,800 people have joined a Facebook group called Concerned Citizens Against Rockwool-Ranson,WV.  

(7) comments

Loudoun Resident

Rockwool is the 6th largest polluter out of more than 2,000 within their industry. There are plenty of insulation options that are not nearly as harmful to produce.

FactsRFacts

The facility is in WV and none of Loudoun's business. I am sure the children in the towns which produce all the electricity used here would appreciate cleaner air also. I would imagine the folks down river from us would appreciate clearer water which we destroy through land development, toxins, run off, pesticides, etc. Everything which is used to grow Loudoun is a pollutant somewhere. IF this debate is truly about the quality of the environment then stop all of the growth here and become better neighbors like you expect of others.

FactsRFacts

This is the most hypocritical protest I have ever seen. First, where do the residents of Loudoun County think the materials come from to build the thousands of houses and commercial buildings approved by the board each year? I guess it's ok as long as their production isn't near you?

Second, you have literally littered this county with big-box, power and water sucking data centers. The carbon footprint of this county is far greater than the population. Again, you don't seem to mind approving data centers with no regard for the source of power. Where do you think the energy comes from to fuel your economy. Guess what, the plants and windmills are all over WV.

You can't have it both ways... Quit being such elitist and arrogant neighbors to a place that makes your economy possible.

FAAer

Western Loudoun County held one of the largest Trump Rally in the area. Trump gets elected and lowers EPA regulations. Now that a company comes into West Virginia, Western Loundoun County gets all upset about pollution.

Concerned Resident

"The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved."
That sums it all up right there. These people had no clue what they were doing and only could see the pitiful money bag.

Concerned Resident

"The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved."
"The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved."
"The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved."
"The mayor said the project, which was referred to as Project Shuttle, was kept confidential until it was approved."

More Cowbell

Why write an article with a bunch of what ifs? could be? Possibly? And of course our corrupt politicians waste their time on this vs something more important. I'm sure someone could find a possible reason for all the data centers causing problems to the air... Look at all the trees knocked down. All the pollution from the trucks coming and going. Why aren't Randall and Comstock upset about that?

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