Lovettsville Becomes Final Loudoun Town to Oppose Rockwool

The Lovettsville Town Council voted unanimously Thursday night to pass a resolution requesting Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, the county Board of Supervisors and the town’s state and federal legislative representatives “take any and all legal action to bring an immediate halt to the construction of the Rockwool facility until a more comprehensive study on the impact on Virginia has been completed.”

With the action, Lovettsville become the seventh and final Loudoun town to formally oppose construction of the Rockwool plant in Ranson, WV.

The Danish company plans to melt rock to spin into mineral wool insulation at a 460,000-square-foot plant. When completed, it will be Rockwool’s fourth plant in North America, with two operating in Canada and one in Mississippi.

Lovettsville is about 14 miles east of the plant’s site in Jefferson County, WV. The council’s resolution states that prevailing winds would bring 392 annual tons of hazardous air pollution, which the State of West Virginia has allowed the plant to emit, into Loudoun and impact its people, water, livestock and plants.

“The health of the citizens and economy of the Town of Lovettsville and Loudoun County will be imperiled by the action of emitting [the pollution into the air],” it reads.

The Town of Hillsboro was the first to do formally oppose the project on Oct. 29, followed by Hamilton on Dec. 10 and Leesburg on Dec. 11. All three resolutions called for legislators to take “any and all legal action” to halt the plant’s construction.

The Middleburg Town Council’s Dec. 13 resolution called for legislators to “take action as appropriate” to protect residents and the local economy by bringing a lawsuit against Rockwool, if necessary.

Round Hill passed its resolution on Jan. 3, with the Town Council opting to omit any language calling for legislators to take legal action to halt the plant’s construction. Its resolution instead calls for legislators to push for local, state and federal enforcement of environmental regulations.

The Purcellville Town Council passed its resolution on Jan. 8, call on legislators to take “any and all action, to include legal action” to halt construction.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in October to request the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality study to assessing Rockwool’s potential impacts on the county and to install an air quality monitoring station in western Loudoun.

In response to concerns from Loudoun’s governing bodies and the state, Trent Ogilvie, the president of Rockwool North America, wrote a letter to Herring defending the environmental measures that his company is taking. Ogilvie wrote that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found that Rockwool’s models, which show the dispersion of hazardous air pollutants, were satisfactory.

Ogilvie also wrote that Rockwool has agreed to cover the costs of installing monitors that will measure background air quality as a baseline to compare with air quality once the plant opens.

According to a report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Rockwool’s Mississippi plant emitted 423,817 pounds of pollution in 2017, nearly 90 percent of which was ammonia.

Since the Mississippi plant opened in 2014, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has hit Rockwool with only one clean air violation. A letter from the state to Rockwool shows a determination that no further action was needed once the company took action to correct the issue.

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