Tag: uranium mining
While I would like nothing more than to believe that Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe is unequivocal in his opposition to uranium mining in Virginia until the science proves such an endeavor safe for Virginians (not for the foreseeable future), we are dealing in politics, a world where positions can change with the blink of an eye. With this in mind, it's concerning to note that at least one member of Gov. McAuliffe's "transition team" has ties to Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI).
As Co-chair of McAuliffe's Transition Committee, former Virginia delegate Whitt Clement is situated in an authoritative position steer Terry McAuliffe in a direction altogether different than the one he announced shortly following his election on November 5th. Clement was a delegate of the 20th District from 1988-2002, a district which encompassed Danville and parts of Pittsylvania County. More alarmingly, Clement is also a former lobbyist for VUI and the brother-in-law of VUI President and Chief Executive Officer, Walter Coles Sr.
While Virginia Uranium Inc.'s (VUI) Project Manager, Patrick Wales, has talked about VUI's dedication to uranium mining safety, its parent company, Virginia Energy Resources Inc. can't even differentiate between "indicated resources" and "mineral reserves" in technical disclosures released on its website. This is especially odd given the significance of its 'mistakes'.
One source found the following:
"The Company [VUI] filed a technical report dated September 6, 2012 titled "NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment Update, Coles Hill Uranium Property, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, United States of America" by Lyntek Inc. and BRS Engineering "in support of a listing application dated August 31, 2012. The technical report did not comply with the requirements of NI 43-101 and Form 43-101F1 because it incorrectly included wording that "the preliminary economic assessment...indicates that the portion of the [indicated] mineral resource...is economic under current conditions" (Indicated resources are simply economic mineral occurrences that have been sampled from locations such as outcrops, trenches, pits and drillholes to a point where an estimate has been made, at a reasonable level of confidence, of their contained metal, grade, tonnage, shape, densities, physical characteristics.)."
If former New York Representative, Anthony Weiner has a problem with 'sexting' (pardon the slang!), then Virginia Uranium Inc. and a number of Virginia's elected officials have a problem accepting numerous studies which demonstrate the various risks posed by uranium mining in Southside Virginia.
Unlike Weiner's problem, however, Virginia's inability to heed multiple warnings to slow its role on attempting to lift the three-decades old moratorium on uranium mining has the potential to directly affect thousands of Virginians for generations.
While proponents of uranium mining in Southside Virginia have brushed away concerns regarding the risks involved with uranium mining in Southside Virginia, their inability to compare apples to apples or to control for pertinent variables in their cited research lends to the conclusion that the moratorium on uranium mining should remain in place until greater consensus has been reached about its safety.
State Sen. Dick Saslaw does not mince words about his support for uranium mining. A Northern Virginia Democrat who is also the Senate minority leader, Saslaw says burying the radioactive byproduct known as tailings underground should be a solution to environmental concerns. And he says he can't be concerned about what might happen 100 [years] from now.Here I thought the whole point of public service was to actually care about the legacy you leave. Good thing the founding fathers cared enough to set up a Constitution and system designed to work 100 or 500 years after they were gone. Good thing some foresighted people in history cared enough to preserve our national parks, our historical buildings, our water, land and air. We could at least do the same for our descendants.
"What about 10,000 years from now? I'm not going to be here," Saslaw says. "I can't ban something because of something that might happen 500 or 1,000 years from now."
What Dick Saslaw's doing here is actually pretty unusual in politics -- not simply expressing an unpopular opinion or "showing independence" by "moving to the center" (in this case, I strongly suspect that the center is not wild about the idea of uranium mining in a wet, heavily populated state) -- but wantonly and maliciously slapping his own constituency in the face.
It's the sign of an official who thinks he can say or do whatever he wants because he thinks he can get away with it. It is therefore the exact opposite of what democracy is supposed to be about.
Click here to follow a link to a page that will provide you with the names and contact information of your legislators, and plan to make these two short calls on Thursday.
It's a quick and easy ask; here's a sample script:
Hello, my name is _______ . I live in (City/Town/County) and I'm a constituent.
I'd like to leave a message for Senator/Delegate ____________ about upcoming legislation attempting to lift the 30-year old ban on uranium mining in Virginia.
There is no way to guarantee safety in the mining process or in the storage of the radioactive byproducts. Our groundwater, surface water, agriculture and tourism industry could all be placed in jeopardy. It's simply not worth the risk. If disaster were to occur, Virginia's economy would be crippled. Uranium mining could threaten the health, safety, and economic viability of our citizens.
Please vote against lifting the ban.
A recent 'research report' released by the conservative misfits at the Heritage Foundation titled "Time to Allow Uranium Mining in Virginia" represents a fabulous attempt to shrug off the real issue at hand over lifting Virginia's 30 year old moratorium on uranium mining: is it safe enough to allow and do the people of Southern Virginia, where the uranium ore lies buried, even want it? According to the report, "A closer analysis, however, reveals that uranium mining is conducted around the world safely and to great economic benefit."
But in order for Heritage to have concluded "uranium mining is conducted around the world safely," their definition of "safely" must have been quite narrow. Uranium mining has been conducted around the world with mixed records of safety, both with regards to 'active' mines and legacy mines. For instance, "Contamination of local water supplies around uranium mines and processing plants has been documented in Brazil, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Namibia and many other sites."
Uranium mining in Southside Virginia abruptly became headline news again when it was discovered that Virginia Sen. Bill Stanley had been recorded telling Pittsylvania County Supervisor, Jerry A. Hagerman, that Gov. Bob McDonnell had requested the former to lobby the Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors to table a resolution on uranium mining at its September 4th meeting.
Consequently, the proposed resolution on uranium mining was taken off of the board's Sept. 4 meeting agenda. Coincidence?
In effect, what Bob McDonnell and his crony surrogates attempted to do was bypass the democratic process in Pittsylvania County and for now, they appear to have succeeded.
It's the latest move in Gov. McDonnell's bag of get-around-the-voter tricks that began with his move to form the "Uranium Working Group" to "be certain that uranium mining can be conducted safely and responsibly." But if McDonnell's goal, or that of the Republicans in the General Assembly, was to determine if uranium mining could be conducted "safely and responsibly," one would have assumed that the National Academy of Sciences uranium mining study group would have been allowed to make recommendations on whether or not to lift the ban, given their findings and their expertise. No such allowance was made, however.
"We don't need to worry about highly improbable extreme weather events washing any radioactive materials into millions of people's water supply" say proponents of lifting the ban on uranium mining in green, wet Virginia. Are they nuts???
The universe keeps telling us that uranium mining in Virginia is a bad idea. This Sky5 video of Roanoke Rapids on Saturday morning after an 11-inch, 4-hour rain should make it perfectly clear what could very easily happen on the nearby Cole's Hill property where uranium mining and milling is proposed. Not only does news video footage - both past and present - confirm the likeliness of extreme weather in this area, but studies commissioned by the City of Virginia Beach also indicate that the area proposed for uranium mining is vulnerable to extreme rainfall events which could cause failure of uranium waste containment structures and result in the contamination of the downstream drinking water, i.e. Lake Gaston, the primary drinking water source for about 1 million people - in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and neighboring communities in Virginia and North Carolina. The City's latest report finds that in the event of significant contamination, "the City of Virginia Beach may have to cease pumping water from Lake Gaston for up to 1.5 years."
What can you do?
How many registered lobbyists would you guess Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) has had over the past year (from May 2011-April 2012)? 5? 7? How about 12? None of the above. VUI now has 19 lobbyists in its employ. Yes, 19.
By contrast, if you search "public school" on the Virginia Public Access Project's (VPAP) website, you'll find "12 Client Companies/Groups," or 11 public school localities and one National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Out of these 12 entities, only 13 registered lobbyists are on record for the past 2 reporting periods. Virginia Uranium Inc. has 19 in the last reporting period alone.
Imagine what public advocacy and environmental groups in Virginia could accomplish if each had 19 lobbyists!
What is equally unique (and threatening to the public health interests of Virginians) is the diversity of lobbying firms that VUI has chosen to pick from: Capital Results LLC, Hunton & Williams, Kemper Consulting Inc, McGuire Woods, Vectre Corp. I'll point out what you've already surmised, this isn't a chump list of lobbyists. Rather, this is a strategic list of heavy-hitting lobbying and consulting firms placed like so many pieces on the chest-board of public policy to take the king.
Whenever you hear a phrase like "sincerely apologize" or, in the case of Governor McDonnell's uranium-mining study, "extremely transparent," my spider-sense starts tingling with mistrust about what is being said. Of course, there may be absolutely no grounds to discount the "sincere apology" of a friend who forgot to pick you up at the airport on time, for example, but in the case of Gov. McDonnell and his administration, my lie detector is constantly on alert.
The sheer fact that "key" documents will be initially withheld from Virginians is itself a red flag that politics is playing a role in the uranium mining study group. Why else would Gov. McDonnell want to keep the documents out of the public eye until the final public report is released? Wouldn't he score political cookie points by keeping the meeting process entirely transparent? If so, what his restraining his decision to do so?