Below is the only 'expert' opinion on Rockwool I have read. Regardless that's it printed in the Journal, which typically pursues a very low level of journalism, this guy's background conveys credibility. Are there other 'expert' opinions? I would like to read them. By 'expert' I mean people with the scientific expertise AND experience in public health. I put it in quotes because I am hearing a lot of alarms from reasonable people who, however, are NOT expert in this sense. I have many friends among "Concerned Citizens Against Rockwool" who cite the list of chemicals used and released in production as an "obvious" proof of harm. However, as the article below notes, factory conditions and controls, the local env, and doses are critical in determining whether there is danger, or what level of danger. (For example, the runoff form Jefferson County agriculture is, and will continue to, generate much more water pollution than Rockwool construction.
I have looked all over the Internet, and I am a relatively experienced searcher, for a lawsuit or judgement filed against Rockwool for illness or health related injury. I cannot find one. Apparently, neither can the media. (https://wtop.com/local/2018/10/rockwool-no-work-related-cancer-or-neighbor-health-lawsuits/). And they operate in many countries, and do their R&D in Denmark, an environmentally conscious nation , where they have a good reputation -- for a corporation, at least.
So, I am coming to the conclusion that the health risks of Rockwool are being exploited somewhat opportunistically as a cover for opposition to manufacturing in general. This trend, and (if I may use a 'bad' word) CLASS perspective, is fully out in the open in this Forbes article (https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidlevine/2018/09/17/toxic-rockwool-three-truths-and-a-lie-about-the-economic-development-game/#4d3ed8223b9a). A picture of a beautiful, mfg-free, gas and coal free, tourist and federal employment based near paradise, for ever, is painted. No mention is made of its poverty, its grossly underfunded education system, its landlocked distance from major air hubs, and the biggest opioid epidemic rate (together with Berkeley County) in the nation. I think the painting is a fantasy
Jefferson County is the states richest county by income. But that's not saying much in the poorest state in the nation. The poor education, commuting and high-tech infrastructure virtually guarantees that no high tech firm will locate here. Most tourism wages are at the minimum wage level, or in some cases (restaurants, immigrants, etc) below minimum
I too would prefer NOT to have giant smoke stacks near my home, or my grandchildren's schools. I love country roads. But I am retired on a comfortable income. The beginning, advertised, wage at Rockwool is OVER 15/hr, that is, OVER the median income level in Jefferson County, (27K $$), acc. to state stats (posed on the Socialist Economics\ FB group). Thus, for over half the workers in Jefferson county, turning down an offer from Rockwool would be turning down a raise.
"Its only 150 jobs", some say. Really? What other opportunities for raising wages and salaries are there? Federal Employment? Shepherd University?, APUS?
-- Senator Manchin is not Senator Byrd. Since the latter's death the power to direct fed investment here is greatly diminished. The State can barely keep the Marc commuter train service running, the lifeline to the only existing high-paying incomes in the county.
--If we had the cleaner governance of Vermont or Massachusetts, it would be very doable to diversify an economic development scheme that would support much more small business development and high-human-capital enterprises economies. But we have a governance formed and cursed and corrupted by a 100 years of natural resource dominion.
However, given our poverty, the relatively tiny number of in state millionaires available to tax, and the depression in 'human capital', manufacturing is very likely the ONLY path to higher incomes for working families. And manufacturing of ANY kind has to be powered by reliable, sustainable power, which in this area can only be powered by coal or natural gas.
I raised my family in and around paper mills, machine tool shops and semiconductor plants. I love factories as much as country roads -- the miracles that human hands can create. It may reduce an element of country, but its not doom, and there is a noticeable improvement in working class culture, opportunities and skills, and aspirations, which is a wondrous thing to live and breath.
A better solution would be to change educational, health and infrastructure conditions so the choice for a more advanced mode of development is possible. However that means literally overthrowing the state resource captured regime and replacing it with one that will renegotiate the terms of resource extraction, place the gains in a sovereign wealth fund dedicated non-resource development of Wv and its people. The choice is hard, but not that complicated -- Do you want to be Libya, or Norway? There is not much middle ground. Coal must be overthrown. Otherwise poverty will smother all other strategies. I doubt we will do better than mfg in WV, including jefferson county, until that happens.
The one middle ground that MIGHT be available is China. If an "externality", like the Federal Government, or China, wants to put 100 billion dollars into the state, then negotiating THOSE terms might open the doors to "Norway", a relative heaven, and close the doors to "Libya", another level of hell.
For those that want a better solution, you have to find the money for it. It's not in West Virginia under this government.
Therefore I oppose 'opposing' the Rockwool plant, and favor working with the company toward the best mutual outcome. All this pending the 180 days of its operating permit (acc to Journal story) where measures of the actual pollution and runoff effects can be documented.