DC drops charges for 20 Rockwool protesters arrested at Danish embassy

The Rockwool factory is being built on the site of a former apple orchard, in Jefferson County, West Virginia. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General has dropped charges against 20 people arrested by the Secret Service outside the Danish Embassy on March 28, as they protested the construction of the Rockwool insulation factory in Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Opponents to the construction by the Danish-based company were charged with obstructing the entrance to the embassy as they attempt to stop construction of the 24-hour-a-day insulation factory being built in a former apple orchard in Ranson, West Virginia.

A spokesman with the attorney general’s office, in a statement, said the cases will not be prosecuted.

“The Danish Embassy protests were conducted peacefully, and those arrested for blocking the entrance were cooperative with law enforcement,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.

“OAG takes several factors into account when evaluating an arrest and deciding whether to pursue charges. These include the seriousness of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history or lack of prior arrests, the quality of the evidence, the likelihood that the defendant will reoffend, and whether there was egregious or serious misconduct involved.”

“In this instance, we exercised our prosecutorial discretion not to proceed with these cases,” according to the statement.

David Levine, co-founder of Resist Rockwool, who was one of those arrested, said his group is pleased with the outcome and “grateful to the Attorney General’s office for declining to prosecute.”

“We were successful in drawing international attention to our struggle against Rockwool’s heavily polluting factory that was inappropriately sited in close proximity to Jefferson County schools, where it will endanger the health and well-being of our children,” said Levine.

Rockwool has repeatedly assured opponents of the factory that the projected emissions are far below federal and state air pollution limits and will have no effect on health or the environment. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection has also said the factory will pose no health risks to people nearby.

The company has said it will install air monitors in spring 2019 at the elementary school that sits across Route 9 from the factory. Elected officials in neighboring Loudoun County, Virginia have expressed concern about emissions from the plant’s stacks.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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