Cross-posted from www.articlexi.com
Question: What’s worse than lifting the ban on a radioactive industry in Virginia?
Answer: Lifting the ban on the radioactive industry if they have no plan to contain the radioactive waste their industry produces.
I know it may seem crazy but, that’s the scenario that could play out if Virginia were to lift a near 30-year ban on uranium mining during the 2012 legislative session. According to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests which uncovered emails between Walter Coles, Sr of Virginia Uranium, Inc. and Peter Pommerenk, Ph.D who works for the city of Virginia Beach.
Virginia Uranium, Inc. is pushing to have Virginia’s existing ban on uranium mining lifted and has a 2012 legislative session target date for achieving this goal. In the meantime, the National Academies of Sciences, Danville Regional Foundation, Chmura Analytics and the city of Virginia Beach are studying the effects uranium mining would have on portions of the state.
The key word here is “portions.” The Virginia Beach study is looking at downstream impacts of uranium mining on the water supply while the other studies are all studying the impacts on Southside Virginia. It’s from Virginia Beach’s efforts to study the safety of uranium mining that these emails originated.
In response to Virginia Beach’s initial email Virginia Uranium, Inc. responded that it has not defined how they will contain the toxic waste generated from their project. The Coles Hill site is expected to generate more than 28 million tons of tailings waste. These tailings contain radioactive material which has been linked to serious health problems including health defects and cancer.
The fact that Virginia Uranium has not developed a plan to contain the waste provides one more signal that Virginia is not ready for this industry, nor is the industry ready to proceed in Virginia.
Virginia Uranium is selling a bag of goods to the people of Southside and the legislature that says we can create jobs and we can do so in an environmentally friendly manner. To make these claims without having a plan for the waste is to spread misinformation.
Before Virginia even considers lifting the ban on uranium mining the industry owes it to the citizens of the Commonwealth to develop a plan to contain the waste produced from mine and mill sites. To argue differently, is to place the public health of our state at risk.