The Ranson, WV Rockwool plant is back in the Loudoun spotlight. This time, towns are asking the federal government to review the corporation’s recent actions.
The Lovettsville Town Council Thursday night agreed to send a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with concerns that Rockwool, which plans to melt rock to spin into mineral wool insulation at a 460,000-square-foot plant 14 miles west of town, has made changes to its construction plans without following the appropriate processes.
According to a letter from the Jefferson County Foundation to all Loudoun towns, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection allowed “major changes” to Rockwool’s permit, including allowing the corporation to change its fuel source, without an analysis of the permit terms and without reopening the matter for public comment.
“Immediate action is required,” the letter reads.
The Leesburg Town Council also voted May 25 to send a letter to the EPA.
In addition to the recent permit changes, Denmark’s Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution for Responsible Business Conduct on June 3 determined that Rockwool International A/S and its North American subsidiary failed to comply with international guidelines in the planning and construction of the West Virginia plant. Rockwool has a year to address the deficiencies and demonstrate to the institution that it will comply with international standards.
That followed an investigation prompted by a complaint filed by the West Virginians for Sustainable Development nonprofit in October 2019.
Rockwool has been at the center of controversy since late 2018—controversy originally sparked by news that the West Virginia plant’s operations could emit 392 annual tons of hazardous air pollution, which could spread into Loudoun and adversely affect the county’s residents, water, livestock and plants.
In response, all seven Loudoun towns and the county Board of Supervisors, passed resolutions opposing the project.
Hillsboro and the Board of Supervisors did so in October 2018; Hamilton, Leesburg and Middleburg did so in December 2018; and Lovettsville, Purcellville and Round Hill did so in January 2019.
Lovettsville’s resolution directed town leaders to request the governor, attorney general, Board of Supervisors and federal and state legislators to “take any and all action to bring an immediate halt” to construction until “a more comprehensive study” on the plant’s impacts on the commonwealth has been completed.
The resolution also read that Lovettsville is culturally and economically dependent on an environment free of excessive air and water pollution that could harm residents’ health and agricultural products, discourage tourism, and devalue residents’ quality of life and property values.
Mayor Nate Fontaine reiterated that stance Thursday night.
“The emissions from the factory … is targeted to blow over, including [the] Lovettsville area, including [the] western Loudoun area all the way down into Leesburg,” he said.
Council members agreed that the town’s proximity to Ranson warrants the town’s decision to reach out to the EPA.
“Where we’re located, we’re so close to other states and other jurisdictions,” said Councilwoman Renee Edmonston. “What they do definitely affects us.”
Fontaine is expected to draft a letter and bring it back before the council for review and a vote.