January 2, 2012

Uranium in Virginia?

The big announcement from Iran about their first nuclear fuel rod should make everyone wonder about the process of getting uranium in the first place. It's a natural element (see December posting) but rather frightening if it gets into the wrong hands.

The Keep the Ban Coalition folks are fighting to keep the 1982 moratorium on mining Virginia's uranium in effect. Their fear is that allowing one permit in Virginia will open the door to more mines, with the accompanying threat to land and water from their waste products. One of the other areas which MIGHT have uranium deposits is the Rapahannock watershed--where I frequently sail.

The Coalition launched a statewide petition drive, beginning with 41 groups and localties and 1,000 signatures of citizens who are urging the General Assembly to keep the ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The upcoming 2012 session of Virginia's General Assembly will look at this issue--carefully and impartially I hope.

On the other hand, Virginia Uranium Inc. is hot to trot into the Coles Hill 300-acre section of southern Virginia, south of Roanoke and Lynchburg, near the North Carolina border. On November 27, 2007, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) issued  a permit to Virginia Uranium to allow the commencement of exploratory drilling on Coles Hill. 

This Pittsylvania County area may have 119 million pounds of the radioactive element, perhaps the 7th largest uranium deposit in the world. That could be enough to power U.S. nuclear power plants for more than 20 years. But you might want to know that 14 Virginia legislators accepted an all-expense paid trip to France from Virginia Uranium on a “fact-finding mission” last summer (one later declined). Yet, French uranium mining operation stopped in 2001. Hmmm.

You can follow nuclear energy news at the Nuclear Energy Institute website.