For Immediate Release – December 19, 2011
Virginia & North Carolina Residents Say: Keep The Uranium Ban!
Richmond, VA – An hour North of Chapel Hill, in South Central Virginia, energy companies are planning to mine for uranium for use in nuclear energy within the community of Coles Hill. They are pushing for the lifting of a 30 year ban on uranium mining that has existed in Virginia and industry is pushing for legislation to be introduced as early as January 2012. On Monday, December 19th, environmental groups are demonstrating outside the General Assembly building at 901 E. Broad St. at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Richmond at the Uranium Mining Subcommittee of the Coal and Energy Commission meeting where the National Academy of Sciences presents their findings on the viability of lifting the moratorium.
The Cole’s Hill community is vehemently opposed to the plan and the group, Virginian’s Against Uranium Mining, has said “If the ban were lifted, processed uranium would be shipped out of state. Left behind for centuries would be huge volumes of radioactive and toxic waste, disposed near farmlands and local waterways. Exposure to this waste has been linked to increases in leukemia, kidney disease and other severe health problems. Uranium mining in the U.S. has typically occurred in dry, sparsely populated climates in the arid Southwest. Virginia, on the other hand, has wet weather and is prone to extreme flooding and storms. Communities downstream from the first proposed site in Pittsylvania County (including Virginia Beach and Chesapeake) worry that a large storm, like Hurricane Irene, will overwhelm operations putting their drinking water at risk of radioactive contamination.”
Sierra Club will be present inside the meeting to present a statement against lifting the ban and Croatan Earth First! from North Carolina will be demonstrating outside. Their banners read, “You Can’t Drink Money,” and “Down With Empire, Up With Spring: No To Uranium Mining!” Earth First! believes that this is an extremely dangerous type of extraction and is a great risk the region’s water table, the Roanoke River Basin. The area in which the mining happens feeds into waterways that go to Virginia Beach, Eastern NC, Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh which are all downstream. “Uranium extraction could contaminate our entire bioregion and water supply, says resident of Chapel Hill, Michelle. “Until recently, uranium mining has only been done in very remote areas. Mining inside of a community and right next to a waterway is inexcusable. This would be the first uranium mine East of the Mississippi River.” Furthermore, “There are no viable ways to dispose of nuclear waste or even to store it permanently,” says John Bower of Earth First!, “There could be long-term and disastrous repercussions of allowing uranium mining next to the Roanoke River. The process of mining alone unavoidably contaminates everything around it with toxic solid, liquid and gaseous wastes.” In 2008, US Congress approved a five-year project of cleaning up hazardous waste and contaminated land, water and buildings inside the Navajo Nation reservation in the Southwest where residents had worked in a uranium mine. They also paid compensation to those suffering from radon induced cancers caused by the extraction process.
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