National Academy of Sciences Report: “Steep Hurdles” to Uranium Mining in Virginia


    The authoritative, respected (except by anti-science fanatics like Ken Kookinelli) National Academy of Sciences has weighed in on uranium mining in Virginia, and it’s basically a bright yellow (or red) CAUTION/DANGER/WARNING sign flashed in front of our eyes. A few key points:

    *”[I]f Virginia lifts its moratorium, there are ‘steep hurdles to be surmounted’ before mining and processing could take place within a regulatory setting that appropriately protects workers, the public, and the environment, especially given that the state has no experience regulating mining and processing of the radioactive element.”

    *”Should the ban be lifted, uranium mining and processing are unlikely to begin for at least five to eight years after the initial granting of a license, the report says.  This period of time should be used to build a robust regulatory and management culture focused on safety and citizen involvement.”

    *”[S]uch activities in Virginia would have the potential to impact water, soil, and air quality.  The degree of impact would depend on site-specific conditions, how early a contaminant release is detected by monitoring systems, and the effectiveness of mitigation steps.”

    *”While it is likely that tailings impoundment sites would be safe for at least 200 years if designed and built according to modern best practices, the long-term risks of radioactive contaminant release are unknown.”

    In sum, uranium mining in Virginia is highly questionable at best, would require a large number of steps to be taken over 5-8 years, and would still leave long-term risks that are “unknown.” In other words: Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

    P.S. If Virginia Uranium would just send me to France for a week or two, all expenses paid, I might just reconsider my opposition to this. (wink wink, just kidding — obviously I’d never do that, but I’d sure love a free trip to France like they offered to all our legislators! LOL)

    • I look forward to reviewing the National Academy of Sciences study on uranium mining. We should always be looking for opportunities for job growth and ways to promote energy independence.  In this instance, however, public safety is of the utmost importance. Any potential for contamination of a watershed that supplies South Hampton Roads and Southside Virginia should be of paramount concern. No potential benefit from uranium mining would outweigh the economic and health consequences resulting from water contamination.

      In Virginia, we have shown that we can grow our economy while protecting vital interests in public safety, the needs of our military, tourism, and stewardship of our land, air and water. I urge Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly to undertake all due diligence in deliberating about this issue.

    • Bumble Bee

      Virginia has never had, does not now have and will never have a robust regulatory culture.  It has always been too busy sucking up to the wealthy and powerful business interests. If you live in Southside, or along Buggs Island Lake or even into the Albemarle Sound in Carolina you better gear up to start glowing in the dark while the special interests frolic off to the bank.  Public Safety and sound management practices my foot.