Rockwool Will Degrade the Visitor Experience at Harpers Ferry
Rockwool will produce major amounts of chemicals that impact visibility and air quality across the region, including smog and haze ingredients.
The air permit process considers the air quality impact for federally designated "Class I" national parks. Unfortunately, Antietam, C & O Canal, and Harpers Ferry are not Class I. The closest Class I park is Shenandoah National Park which has a Q/d limit of 9.6/10 in Rockwool's permit-- that's just 4% under the air quality impact threshold for additional federal review, and Shenandoah National Park is about 35 miles away. There are also assumptions in the permit that may understate the actual amount of pollution that Rockwool will produce.
Additionally, the facility is 463,000 sqft and will operate around the clock, seven days a week, and has giant 21 story smokestacks. So it will likely be visible from many Harpers Ferry overlooks, and may impact the county in terms of light pollution. There's also a large trucking footprint-- the site has loading docks with staging for 100 tractor trailers, and the government hasn't provided details about the volume and routes for that traffic.
Additionally, Rockwool is very close to the Elks Run Watershed, which supplies drinking water to municipal Bolivar and Harpers Ferry.
Thomas Jefferson in 1783 wrote about the view at Harpers Ferry:
"The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea. ...But the distant finishing which nature has given the picture is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the former. It is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. ...This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."
In subsidizing and bringing Rockwool here, the Jefferson County government is failing in its stewardship of this historic, scenic place.