General Assembly preview shows tough fight ahead to protect human health


    At the Virginia Conservation Network’s General Assembly preview at the Capitol Building in Richmond on Saturday, the agenda for conservationists and lovers of human health was laid out for the upcoming General Assembly session beginning in January.

    The 2012 General Assembly session stands to be another year of tough battles for the conservationist community as issues such as clean energy credits, uranium mining, the Chesapeake Bay restoration, and a number of other important environmental issues face tough and well-financed opposition groups.

    The case of uranium mining in Southside Virginia will perhaps be the most hard-fought and consequential issue for the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Virginians. If the ban on uranium mining is lifted, opponents of uranium mining say that it is only a matter of time before the drinking water for over a million Virginians is contaminated with radioactive “waste.”

    Given the close proximity of the Coles Hill uranium mining site to communities and large living areas in every direction, not to mention a number of important bodies of water, it’s difficult to imagine how such a novel form of uranium mining and milling would be undertaken without disastrous consequences.

    Were uranium to be mined and milled in Virginia, it would be the first such case in a state with more rainfall than evaporation, creating a level of uncertainty about the safety of the entire process that simply cannot be ignored.

    A point that should be stressed is that if the General Assembly decides to lift the ban for uranium mining only in Southside Virginia, it will only be a matter of time before the exception of Southside VA becomes the rule throughout the entire state. That is to say, uranium mining could spread throughout Virginia. Do you want that in your backyard?

    • glennbear

      If the ban is lifted I can see local officials all over the state vying for mining operations with the promise of campaign contributions (bribes), tax revenue, and that golden calf of mining operators “high paying jobs”.  

    • hereinva

      This is a Virginia-wide Issue. I think a lot of folks believe this is just a “Pittsylvania” concern. In the late 70’s/early 80s there were uranium mine leases in Fauquier, Madison, Orange, and Culpeper Counties..along or within the Rapidan, Occoquan and Rappahannock River watersheds but were never developed due to the ban.  Should uranium mining get its “foot in the door”, other mining companies could follow.

      The 1983 EPA Report on safety/ standards for uranium mining byproducts,(40 CFR 192) offers a “model”uranium mining site: semi-arid regions w/annual rainfall @ 12 inches per year. Virginia is flush with fresh water (its raining as I type)especially in the eastern regions due to tropical storms/hurricanes.

      Serious health/safety issues are raised-Need to follow this carefully.