Rockwool Information

Community Information on the Rockwool Project in Ranson, W.Va.

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ATTENTION JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOL COMMUNITY:
The Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBOE) was informed of a rumor during their regular meeting on Oct. 8, 2018 regarding the Jefferson High School (JHS) Football team being sponsored by Rockwool. An inquiry was conducted immediately.  We found that no member of the JHS Administration, Athletic Department, coaching staff or booster’s organization has sanctioned nor been in contact with Rockwool.  After receiving additional information, Jefferson County Schools researched further and determined that Rockwool is sponsoring the Hagerstown TV coverage for high school football. That includes both Washington and Jefferson High School football games.   The sponsorship is for the entire season.  Jefferson County Schools, Washington High School, and Jefferson High School have no control over who sponsors coverage of their athletics in the media. That is true of coverage on television and radio, and in print.  The individual schools and school system in no way benefit from the sponsorship and see no financial gain. We appreciate our citizens joining our Board in practicing responsible civic engagement by verifying information from a credible source.   

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The Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBOE) would like to take the opportunity to update the community on a number of requests we have made to the Rockwool Company that is building a manufacturing plant in Ranson, W.Va.  As you may know the JCBOE has been working to obtain the most accurate information about the facility and its potential impact on the community possible.  Through numerous meetings with local officials, state representatives, and representatives from Rockwool, the JCBOE has managed to accumulate a wealth of data that is being shared on the Jefferson County Schools (JCS) website, www.boe.jeff.k12.wv.us. There has also been a tremendous amount of input from concerned citizens through email, face-to-face encounters, and during recent JCBOE meetings. 

The focus at this time is an independent Human Health Risk Assessment (a) the JCBOE is facilitating. Per the board’s request, the assessment must be done by an independent third party so it will have validity for the citizens of Jefferson County, and the company doing the work must be selected by a committee that includes Jefferson County citizens. Rockwool has agreed to those terms. The following action steps are in process:


1. Rockwool and Jefferson County Board of Education have agreed on the qualifications (b) that a company/scientist must possess to be considered for the independent Human Health Risk Assessment.   Chief among these is the presence of a licensed toxicologist on staff.   The focus of the HHRA is the effect upon children and the evaluator must have more than a general environmental background. They must also have the expertise to provide a critical analysis of the effects on children.  

2. Jefferson County Board of Education developed a list of companies and they were reviewed for compliance with the criteria and experience.  Companies meeting the criteria will receive a letter of solicitation from the JCBoE inviting them to bid on completing the HHRA. 

3. A committee will review the HHRA applicants with a rubric for completion.  Both parties have agreed upon the composition of the committee:  1 Rockwool representative, 1 School Board member, Dr. Hoff (crisis plan coordinator for JCS), 1 JCS employee, 2 JCS parents (1 elementary/1 secondary), and 1 JCS high school student.   The Superintendent will serve as the secretary for the committee.  We anticipate having a portal on the website for applications up by Monday, October 15th.

While the JCBOE is pleased that Rockwool has agreed to these terms, they are disappointed that the company has refused numerous requests from the board to halt all construction at the Ranson site until the Human Health Risk Assessment is completed. 

After careful consideration of Rockwool’s response, the JCBOE has engaged legal counsel to begin exploring the ramifications of withdrawing from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program the previous board entered into last October. That step was taken during the Sept. 10, 2018 JCBOE meeting. The JCBOE is receiving legal advisement in Executive Session on Monday, October 8th.

Meanwhile the public is asking about JCBOE member Gary Kable’s role as the board liaison to the Jefferson County Development Authority (JCDA). Mr. Kable is currently not a voting member. Per the JCDA by-laws, a voting member must be appointed by the Jefferson County Commission (JCC). It has never been the practice for the JCBOE liaison to have a vote. JCS has sent a letter to the JCC inquiring about their intent regarding Mr. Kable’s status on the JCDA board.  

The JCBOE is also keenly aware of concern about emergency plans at the Rockwool facility should some sort of accident occur. While JCBOE cannot speak to the internal procedures at Rockwool, they can comment on the steps taken within the school system to ensure that students and staff are prepared for a number of different scenarios. 

Each school year, the State of West Virginia requires schools to conduct ten fire evacuation drills. In Jefferson County Schools, 12 are conducted. Two separate drills are held to practice emergency plans for events like tornadoes, hazardous materials incidents, medical emergencies.  At least one of these Shelter-in-Place drills must take place during class. 

Jefferson County Schools also partners with local, state, and national law enforcement agencies when conducting our safety prevention, planning and drills.  These trainings also prepare faculty to handle the potential for an Active Shooter/Hostile Intruder in our schools. 
It is the intent of the JC BoE to utilize information from the HHRA to update our crisis plans at our schools should the information warrant.  

Since the beginning of this process, the JCBOE has been seeking the facts.  We value our role of modeling positive civic engagement for the next generation.   The board appreciates the support and comments from the community as we navigate the situation.

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(a) A Human Health Risk Assessment is defined as the process to estimate the nature and probability of adverse health effects in humans who may be exposed to chemicals in contaminated environmental media, now or in the future.  Human health risk assessment includes 4 basic steps:

Step 1 - Hazard Identification
Examines whether a stressor has the potential to cause harm to humans and/or ecological systems, and if so, under what circumstances.

 Step 2 - Dose-Response Assessment
Examines the numerical relationship between exposure and effects.

 Step 3 - Exposure Assessment
Examines what is known about the frequency, timing, and levels of contact with a stressor.

 Step 4 - Risk Characterization
Examines how well the data support conclusions about the nature and extent of the risk from exposure to environmental stressors.



(b) The individual conducting the Human Health Risk Assessment must be a qualified toxicology, air and environmental expert who possesses the following:
Advanced educational degree in environmental studies, chemistry, environmental science, atmospheric chemistry, or related scientific field; 

Experience in toxicology and related theoretical and practical applications; 

Expertise in air quality and environmental health, including hazard identification; exposure assessment; inhalation risk assessment; particulate matter; and risk characterization; 

Strong familiarity and experience with air quality standards, including Federal regulations; 

Background/experience working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 

Experience in conducting health risk assessments for public and private sectors in diverse regional geographies, thereby establishing a significant frame of comparative reference;  

Successful experience in completing comprehensive health risk assessments related to exposure and potential health impacts on the general population, including children; and 

Retains a neutral position and has refrained from interjecting opinion on the project under review.




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