Why Rush to Judgment on Uranium?


    I am sure that Virginia’s legislators enjoyed their “fact-finding” vacation in France this summer, paid for by Virginia Uranium Inc. After all, they spent most of the time “studying” uranium mining in Paris. Virginia Uranium isn’t exactly a home-grown corporation any more. 2/3rds of it is owned by a Canadian company that conveniently changed its name to Virginia Energy Resources. I have a question for those gearing up to ram a bill ending the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia through the General Assembly next year. Have you people looked at what kind of immediate market there seems to be for uranium after the Japanese nuclear disaster? Surely, any viable business would look at the possible market for its product before deciding to commit to a large investment.

    With just a bit of research, I found the following: Italy has voted to extend a moratorium on nuclear power, even though the country imports 86% of its energy needs. Germany decided in May to close all of its nuclear power plants, 20% of its energy supply, during the next decade. Switzerland is in the process of voting on a bill to phase out their nuclear program (40% of their power needs). China has suspended the plan it had announced to build 28 new nuclear reactors by 2020. Supposedly, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are looking to suspend their plans for nuclear plants. And, if you think you have seen NIMBY (not in my backyard) in the United States before, just suggest adding new nuclear power plants and see the reaction after Fukushima.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to the possibility of nuclear power being one relatively clean source of energy in the future if the industry can address safety concerns; however, I see no reason to rush to judgment about a possible uranium mine in Pittsylvania County. The change in market conditions seems to be saying that we can take all the time we need to actually study the pros and cons of something never done before in the U.S. – mining uranium in a moderate, wet climate that is prone to severe storms and is part of the watershed for a major metropolitan area.  

    There is one other thing that might make me much more supportive of nuclear power. It’s long past time that we as a nation decided exactly what we are going to do with our nuclear waste. If we can agree on a safe way to dispose of that waste, then nuclear power becomes far more attractive to me.