Protecting the air quality in Jefferson County
For decades, we have successfully operated multiple manufacturing facilities around the world, many situated near schools, neighborhoods, businesses, recreational facilities, vineyards, and even national parks.
We truly believe that we can achieve the same outcome in Ranson. We are minimizing the environmental impact of our operations through the implementation of our most advanced emission-control technology developed to date.
In West Virginia, our permitted emissions will be well within the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP), and in accordance with the Federal Clean Air Act.
Strict emissions limits are specifically designed to safeguard sensitive populations including children, the elderly, and asthmatics. We will also ensure full compliance with the MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards, most recently updated in 2015 and in whose development the Sierra Club played a significant role.
Research and analysis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards support the determination that the ROCKWOOL facility in Ranson will have no negative consequences in Jefferson County or in neighboring counties such as Loudoun, VA. Additionally, these stringent standards are designed to protect the health of sensitive populations like children, asthmatics, and the elderly under worst-case scenarios.
Air quality dispersion modeling has been carried out for the main emissions (PM10, PM2.5, NOx, SO2). On top of that, we brought in ERM as a third-party environmental consultancy to conduct a thorough assessment in the proximity of the plant for formaldehyde, methanol, and phenol. The results show that in all cases, maximum contribution based on worst-case scenarios meet strict chemical substance limits including 1/10th the allowable limit for formaldehyde, 1/100th for phenol, and 1/1000th for methanol).*
And as expected, now that our Ranson plant is up and running, actual emissions are significantly below the permitted levels.
*West Virginia does not regulate formaldehyde, phenol, or methanol emissions. Virginia was selected due to the close proximity to our Ranson facility.
Locally, the WVDEP re-affirmed the above after issuing the air permit to ROCKWOOL, noting in a statement dated September 18, 2018, that the “air permit approved by WVDEP met strict state and federal standards that are protective of human health and the environment.”
The “Wet Electrostatic Precipitator” (WESP) technology that has been installed in Ranson, uses electricity in a wet environment to electrically charge and collect particles, reducing particulate matter by 95-99 percent. This system is considered Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns).
Additional abatement (emissions minimizing) technologies reduce the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to a level defined as “insignificant” by the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).
Even while meeting and exceeding environmental requirements, we also understand that some residents have concerns about the facility’s potential impact on local air quality. To provide additional reassurance regarding the facility’s environmental safety, the company fully funded two local air monitoring stations that monitored air quality from around one year before the expected start of operations through to June 30, 2023.
Taking this step was not a standard procedure, but we did so to provide the community with independent, publicly-available data to track air quality – notwithstanding our 80+ years of experience operating in communities with schools, homes, hospitals, and areas of natural beauty nearby.
In agreement with the Jefferson County Board of Education, a third-party environmental consulting firm – Environmental Resources Management (ERM) – installed, operated and maintained the air monitoring equipment as well as provided the monitoring data for the public. ERM identified the two locations for the air monitors – North Jefferson and TA Lowery Elementary Schools – based on EPA siting criteria, the location of sensitive receptors (e.g., children) in proximity of the facility, local wind patterns, and an air quality dispersion model analysis.
Through the air monitoring program, community members have access to publicly available data to track air quality levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The monitors measured air quality that is affected by all emitting sources, including the ROCKWOOL facility when it became operational.
Quarterly Summary Reports
These quarterly reports provide a summary with statistics on the overall conditions during a three-month period, and beginning in year two of the ambient air quality monitoring program, the reports contain data for completing a comparison against the same period in the previous year.