Japanese Fallout in Virginia?


    There well may be a direct, immediate consequence for Virginia in the extremely serious problems now ongoing at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex. I’m thinking about the possibility of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County. When the owners of the land containing a large deposit of uranium ore and their investors, both American and Canadian, first proposed mining in the central Virginia county, they were anticipating a huge jump in the demand for uranium as nations decided to increase nuclear energy to combat global warming. Now, all that surely will be put on hold.

    European nations, remembering the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, are especially divided on whether nuclear is an option for the future. Also, today uranium mining stocks dropped from 13 to 25 percent.

    While Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell said they are still open to expansion of nuclear power in the U.S., McConnell said on Meet the Press, “I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy.” Virginia’s Sen. Mark Warner joined that chorus.

    The ongoing Japanese environmental disaster probably won’t produce some sort of Chernobyl, but if I were a politician running against some Republican who has touted how wonderful uranium mining would be for Virginia, i.e., Rep. Robert Hurt, I sure would have a potent campaign issue.

    I need to say that I personally believe that nuclear energy could well be a viable way to confront the dangers to the earth caused by fossil fuel electricity generation. However, the time has come for the United States to confront the necessity of finding a viable way to store spent nuclear fuel and to close plants in California and other places that may be sitting in earthquake zones.

    For instance, Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County sits near several fault lines, including the San Andreas. Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Station in San Diego County isn’t as close to active faults, but both plants are on the coast, where tsunamis are possible.

    I realize that it’s near impossible to get people to be proactive rather than reactive, but if nuclear power is going to be a part of the solution to global warming, we need to prepare for the worst case scenario and either do the best we can or drop the nuclear option.


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