New Insulation Plant Concerns Loudoun Residents

Benjamin Nichols, staff writer


Potential pollution plumes have residents concerned over a plant in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The plumes could emit toxic chemicals that would affect both residents’ health and the agritourism industry.


Rockwool, a Danish company, is building a plant to produce stone-wool insulation. However, the plant is becoming very controversial with the local population.


According to critics, the plant will spill out chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene, and biphenyl. However, the company maintains that the potential for pollution is almost non-existent.


“There are absolutely zero violations for the air permits that exist, zero odor, zero noise complaints, and a community that’s very supportive of us and the economic benefits that we bring,” Rockwool President Trent Ogilvie told WTOP. “We’re not harming the communities where we operate.”


On Sept. 13, an attorney representing the Danish company threatened a lawsuit if the factory project was stopped. The attorney cited a potential $100 million loss for the company if the plant construction was stopped.


“It also goes without saying that Rockwool would have no alternative but to pursue its legal rights and remedies to the fullest extent should it not receive the incentives it was promised and upon which it has relied and performed,” attorney James Walls wrote in a letter to Jefferson County Administrator Stephanie Grove.


Rockwool broke ground for the factory on July 26. The factory will be built within 10,000 feet of four Jefferson County schools, according to opposition. The factory is also receiving attention from Loudoun County officials.


“The concern is that the smoke will have quite a few chemicals in it that will no doubt waft into Loudoun County. Just because a company has the right to do something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall said in a statement.


The website also cited that the airborne pollutants could infect the Potomac River, harming drinking supplies for the area.


“We aim to continue double-digit growth in the United States, and this factory will play a major role in ensuring we meet the growing customer demand for non-combustible stone wool insulation in this market,” Rockwool Group President Jens Birgersson said.


Time is ticking for the opposition, as construction is expected to begin sometime in October. The site of the plant will be located ten miles away from Loudoun County.