We Challenge WV DEP to Remain Independent on Rockwool

Grassroots groups sends letter outlining concerns about WV DEP and the Rockwool Open House.

West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection
Division of Air Quality
Director William “Fred” Durham
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV 25304

Dear Director Durham:

We are writing to strongly urge the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) to decline any invitation to present at the Rockwool Open House planned for August 23-25.  We would instead request that WV DEP hold a normal public hearing or forum to present the Rockwool air permit and to take questions in that regular format.

The fast-tracked process that brought Rockwool to Jefferson County provided little actual notice about the plant’s pollution, intensity, and other impacts.  We are disappointed that the WV DEP didn’t anticipate the profound change that Rockwool brings to our community, and exercise the option of holding a public hearing or workshop this past spring.

The overall mistrust here about the process was compounded when WV DEP officials reportedly participated in a closed door, multi-governmental meeting recently at the Bavarian Inn.  The fact that the Bavarian Inn meeting resulted in a public statement by Rockwool about their use of petroleum coke further adds to the sense that the issued permit is inadequate, and that our government is still negotiating with Rockwool behind closed doors.

Our community has many questions about Rockwool’s permit, and Rockwool repeatedly cites “stringent” environmental laws as a reason we should not worry about the plant’s pollution.  But how can we trust that WV DEP will be an independent regulator of Rockwool when the public’s only access to WV DEP experts might be on Rockwool’s terms and through Rockwool handlers?  

We urge you to protect WV DEP’s reputation for independence by declining to have a role at the Rockwool Open House.  Instead, we ask that you arrange a public forum so that our community can engage with WV DEP in an independent public setting.  We’d suggest that the Jefferson County Commission would be an appropriate  partner in hosting such a forum. 

Thank you for considering our views, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns about this matter.


Leigh Smith
Jefferson County Vision