December 1, 2012

Uranium in Virginia?

Mining experts say that 119 million pounds of uranium lurks underground in western Virginia, in Pittsylvania County near the North Carolina line. They want the Virginia General Assembly to lift the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining in our state.

This just might be a big deal since no uranium mining yet takes place east of the Mississippi River. Virginia is especially susceptible to hurricanes and our wet ground is not particularly well suited to underground storage of uranium mining residue (known as tailings). And lots of folks' drinking water comes from that area of Virginia.

But the industry claims they can safely mine this $7 billion deposit of uranium. They claim that "robust regulations" will ensure the safety of the public, plus our water and air. Are these the same robust regulations that "saved" the Gulf during the BP debacle?

The multi-agency group, Uranium Mining Group, just released their mega-report to the General Assembly. But that report included NO recommendations. Kinda like a report card for little Johnny that didn't tell parents if he could read. But I'm no expert.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation just joined the Southern Environmental Law Center and a number of other environmental groups in asking the mining ban to continue.

Stay tuned as our elected officials debate this issue in coming months.