The Deputy Ambassador of Denmark to the United States Henrik Hahn was invited to speak to a chapter of the West Virginia Kiwanis Club in Harpers Ferry last week.
Denmark-based Rockwool has been a source of health and environmental contention for more than a year in the Eastern Panhandle, but discussion about the company was intentionally excluded from the event.
Hahn described Denmark’s 200-year-old diplomatic relationship with the U.S. He spoke about jobs the country has brought to the United States, and about Denmark’s push to be a global leader in healthcare, and clean and renewable energy.
But Rockwool was not a topic of Hahn’s presentation.
“I didn’t want to get into Rockwool, but because there was interest in Rockwool and Denmark, I decided to invite the ambassador,” said Daniel Lutz, lieutenant governor of the eastern division of the West Virginia Kiwanis Club.
Lutz said the purpose of the event was to open communication between Jefferson County and Denmark – especially given the level of contention surrounding Rockwool.
“We wanted to show Jefferson County and our group at our best,” he said.
Lutz said he is not anti-Rockwool, but he is against the emissions that would come from the Rockwool plant. He said he would be supportive of Rockwool coming to Jefferson County if they can manufacture their stone wool product without emitting gasses into the air.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting spoke with Deputy Ambassador Hahn about Rockwool after the event. Hahn stood by the company and said he’s aware of the debate about the plant in Jefferson County, but he argues the company is trustworthy and will stand by their promises.
“Danish companies are coming to the U.S., and they are often applying the same rules and regulations that they have in Denmark,” Hahn said. “They are coming with the same values. So, I cannot see any reason why Rockwool should not come as a respectable company in the U.S. and establish themselves here.”
Hahn received seven Rockwool-related letters after the event, which he promised to submit to Danish officials.
He said he’s hopeful people on both sides of the issue can sit down together and speak with an open mind.