More than 100 people spoke at a public hearing in Shepherdstown this week hosted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The hearing was for two proposed stormwater-related permits to be issued to Denmark-based Rockwool in Ranson, Jefferson County.
Jefferson County’s predominantly karst geology – a porous, spongy type of rock that is prone to sinkholes – was a major talking point at Wednesday night’s public hearing.
“Our karst geology should not be a toilet for Rockwool’s contaminants,” local resident Ruth Hatcher said from the podium of the Storer Ballroom in Shepherd University’s Student Center.
Hatcher was one of more than 100 speakers at the DEP’s hearing who spoke out against issuing two stormwater management permits to Rockwool.
Rockwool, a stone wool manufacturing plant that is currently under construction in Ranson and has drawn heated debate across the region for more than a year, is requesting for its Construction Stormwater Permit (WVR108876) to be reissued. The permit requires regulation of erosion control and stormwater runoff during construction of a facility.
Rockwool is also requesting an Industrial Stormwater Permit (WVG611896), that would regulate stormwater after construction is complete.
But residents are concerned that if an accident occurs, the runoff would affect the area’s karst geology, seeping into the ground and contaminating drinking water for a large portion of Jefferson County residents.
Out of the more than 100 speakers, only one person spoke in favor of the stormwater permits.
Those opposed to Rockwool are hopeful that if the permits are not issued, it could effectively stop construction of the Rockwool plant.
The public comment period ends at 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2019.
Public comments can be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.