— An update on Rockwool from Jefferson County Vision
The Rockwool factory in Ranson has been encountering some rocky roads as of late and the fight to keep them from their final destination continues. On February 6, Rockwool announced that Trent Ogilvie, the president of Rockwool North America, a rising star within the company and the employee responsible for choosing Jefferson County for Rockwool’s highly polluting factory, was “retiring” after 25 years with the company.
That same morning, the CEO of Rockwool, Jens Birgersson, announced on an investors’ call that the opening of the Ranson plant would be delayed, again, this time until “next year.” That said, at a special session of the Charles Town City Council on February 12, Rockwool acknowledged that their plant was only about 50 percent complete. The company is still short of much of the infrastructure and permits they require to go operational.
The needed supply line for natural gas was denied an easement to cross under the Western Maryland Rail Trail. In attempt to gain access for the continuation of the expansion, Columbia Gas filed a condemnation complaint against Maryland state lands, which is to be ruled on by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. An additional appeal fighting the factory water line certificate awaits a WV Supreme Court decision.
Relatedly, Rockwool’s sewer line, required to be functional before they can occupy the facility, is not yet under construction, and they do not have all the necessary storm water permits. Numerous other court cases await rulings in the WV Circuit Court. Rockwool needs everything to go right and nothing to go wrong for them to keep to their ever-changing schedule.
Hard Work Being Done
Numerous groups continue to take the fight to the courts as well as the federal, state, and local agencies involved with the approval and oversight of Rockwool’s plans. With an eye on the slim possibility that the factory could one day be operational, the West Virginia University School of Public Health and local physicians are planning a study to sample baseline levels of different harmful substances that could be emitted at the Ranson site.
All of these successes are due in part to the hard work being done by citizens of Jefferson County and beyond that are willing to give of their time, skills, and money to stand up for what they believe in. The fight continues on many fronts, and is far from over. While no one can do everything, everyone can do something.
For those interested in joining the battle for clean air, clean water, and clean government, find more information at the EP Green Coalition, Eastern Panhandle Protectors, the Jefferson County Foundation, Jefferson County Vision, and Resist Rockwool.
ARTICLE BY: Tim Ross, vice president of Jefferson County Vision.