Round Hill, Bluemont Citizens Association Join Fight Against Rockwool Plant

The Town of Round Hill is the fifth Loudoun town to oppose the potential negative effects of the planned Rockwool plant in Ranson, WV, with the Bluemont Citizens Association also taking a stand against it.

The Round Hill Town Council on Thursday night voted unanimously to pass a resolution requesting Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, the Board of Supervisors and state and federal representatives to “take any and all legal action to fully and strictly enforce all local, state and federal environmental regulations on the potential Rockwool facility.” The town sits about 12 miles from the site of the plant, which will emit up to 392 tons of hazardous air pollution a year once completed.

“Loudoun County and the Town of Round Hill are culturally dependent upon an environment free from excessive air and water pollution that would harm its citizens’ health, degrade its agricultural products, inhibit and discharge tourism and devalue its citizens’ quality of life and property values,” the resolution reads.

It also calls for recurring air and water sampling to be conducted once the plant is functional.

The difference between Round Hill’s resolution and that of other Loudoun towns is that is does not include language calling for legal action to halt the plant’s construction.

Councilman Michael Hummel noted that it’s “not in the town’s realm” to stop something taking place outside of its jurisdiction.

The citizens association—comprised of residents from Loudoun and Clarke Counties in Virginia and Jefferson County in West Virginia—on Wednesday night also voted unanimously to pass a similar resolution calling for legal action to halt the 460,000-square-foot plant’s construction until a study is performed.

That resolution makes it clear that the plant’s hazardous air pollution could be carried into Loudoun by wind and affect residents, water, livestock and plants. The Village of Bluemont sits about 18 miles away from the site.

“It is the duty and obligation of the elected and appointed officials of Loudoun County and Commonwealth of Virginia to exercise any and all powers to protect the life, health and well-being of their citizens,” the resolution reads.

The Danish company Rockwool melts rock to spin into mineral wool insulation and already has three plants in North America—two in Canada and one in Mississippi.

Opposition to the construction of the West Virginia Plant, which will be located six miles from the Loudoun County border, began to pick up in October when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ask the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to perform an up to $265,000 study to assess the plant’s potential impacts on the county and to install an air quality monitoring station in western Loudoun.

On Oct. 29, the Hillsboro Town Council became the first of seven Loudoun towns to pass a resolution pressing for legal action against the plant. Six weeks later, Hamilton adopted its own resolution on Dec. 10, with Leesburg doing so on Dec. 11 and Middleburg on Dec. 13.

The Town of Purcellville will vote to do the same next Tuesday and the Town of Lovettsville is expected to follow soon after.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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