Wednesday, March 25, 2009

LIVE BLOG NOTES: Residents Speak Out at Richmond Mining Meeting

(Partial real-time transcript/live blogging, reverse chronology)

You know things are off to a very wobbly start when the study committee doesn't know there's a difference between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the National Academy of Science (NAS). ...SB

By John Crane

Published: March 24, 2009

Virginia Uranium Inc. seeks to mine and mill a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit at Coles Hill, six miles northeast of Chatham. The Virginia Coal & Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee is overseeing a study to determine whether uranium mining and milling can be done safely in the commonwealth.

4:16 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 4:19 p.m.

3:54 p.m.
Corben Harwood - My siblings and I own a farm along the Staunton River. We are concerned that our area not be damaged that safety and health and welfare of people who attend a camp on our property is not threatened.

I was hoping we would be able to comment on Karmis’ proposal. I would have, as a number of people, the cart is before the horse. I thought it would be a scientific and technical study. The issues are supposed to be scientific and technical, not economic. We’ve already seen lobbying here by VUI today.

You’ve already approved the study, and I didn’t get to comment before you passed it. I hope that when you look at market demands and trrends and you look at alternative forms of energy.
Ware - Please don’t hesitate to send extra comments be email. Ware emphasized that the proposal approved today is a tentative outline of the study’s objectives.

3:44 p.m.
Eloise Nenon - Look at ethnic makeup, of the 80 wells tested, only two were owned by black residents. So that is racist. Is this a statewide scope, Va. Beach’s water would be contamined by the mining.

Averett, Hargrave, and other schools in the area would be closed, because of perception of uranium mining. Problems of uranium miners and others in other areas where mining is done is male sterility. Let’s look at what this would mean.

Ware - Time is up.

Sue Poe Pitts. Co. - My ancestors came to Pitts. Co. in mid 1700s. I live seven miles from site. Our ancestors and I grew our own food. The draining creeks from flow into Banister River would be contaimined by mining and would affect Va. Beach. Think about young people and children who would be affected by this later on. My concern is the health hazards uranium causes.

Uranium causes problems when it is taken from its natural state by humans. Mercury, uranium, lead ask yourself if you would want to live near a uranium mine.

We may be less educated or less wealthy, don’t let us become an experiment.

Katie Whitehead - How will we know what you’re doing as you proceed. Today was the first day I’ve known of a Web site. Are the comments posted there or is it just a meeting schedule and agenda.

My second question will the draft scope of study prior to subcommittee be available to public before you take action, and now you’ve taken action. The process is not open to public comment. I don’t see many opportunities for public comment.

Kay Slaughter with Southern Environmental Law Center - Other chemcials are used besides uranium in the process.

It should be a statewide stidy. Should the moratorium be lifted, the whole state would be affect.
Study should include is whehter a milling site could be established to serve more than one mining site.

I ask that the proposal be submitted in advance and allow 30 days of discussion before your meeting.

Georgie Stuart - Uranium mining and milling cleanup costs would exceed cost of mining and milling. Only a handful of individuals would benefit from this venture.

3:15 p.m. Public comment

Walt Coles Jr. - Environmental concerns are important, but I also believe the socioeconomic aspects of this study are important.

Statistics unemplyment rate Richmond Jan . 2009 6.9 percent

Danville - 14 percent more than double the unemployment rates of other towns in Va.

This uranium resource could be a treasure for the community.

Wyoming is a state that has seized taken advantage of its national resources has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. 3.7 percent.

3:08 p.m. Public comment continues

It would bring a new source of enery to U.S.

Sen. Robert Hurt - This issue is certainly one of the most significant. It’s importan we look at this with a statewide perspective. Thanks for bringing public comment meeting to Chatham. As a rep. of this area, I’m glad to see the framework Karmis has put together.

Two things I suggest you consider.

Envinrmental laws and regs - i ask Karmis to consider is the role of federal eminent domain could have in this matter. What if the feds decided to come and take this? What would the consequences be?

Another point - It’s important for us to know what we don’;t know. Study can’t answer all questions. It’s important to identify thigs we don’t know. We need to know what it is we don’t know in terms of safety.

Del. Danny Marshall - This is a controversial issue and we want to do it right. This is only about safety, everything else is secondary.

Does this subcommittee have the authority to move this study forward.

Ware- we have the authority to get it underway. karmis will discuss this with the NRC and come back to us. This is a framework. There may other things you may find we;ll want to include on the study.

Marshall - As we go through this. Does NRC work for Va. Tech. or you?

Ware - It’s imprtant this study is done without the glare of politics and it’s determined by what happens on the ground.

Del. Don Merricks - I want to make sure we have citizens input. Life is full of risks and rewards. Any risk associated with the environment, we have to micromanage this process. Uncover and hear every concern. Uncover everything, but also address economic concerns.

2:55 p.m. Public comment

26 names for public comment.

Patrick Wales, VUI spokesman and geologist - I grew up in Southside, Danville that I call home.

I pledge the full cooperation of VUI with National Resource Center. VUI may have difference of opinions on small matters, but we had full opportunity to provide comment. The scope reasonable address the questions we have been hearing. Corning closing leaving with 200 fewer jobs. Hopefully, the study will follow the issue where the science goes.

Brett Vassey Virginia Manufacturers Association
Va. is the nuclear epicenter of the U.S. Nuclear is 36 percent on Va.‘s electricity. We have a long history of safe mining and nuclear energy. At the end of day, the jobless this area has a 16.8 percent unemployment rate. We see this as a new opportunity to create a new industry.

2:50 p.m.

Ware - We approve this document as our tentative working document on the technical aspects in speaking with NAS or NRC. Karmis would stay in touch with us on updates.

Karmis - my plan is to discuss this with the NRC and have them back to us with their recommedation on how long it would take and funding. I feel we need input from NRC before we go any further.

Sen. Watkins if we approve this, you’ll lay out an outline and proposal with the NRC and come back to us?

Karmis - The whole idea is to get NRC technical input and bring it back to you.
Ware - adopt this document and task Karmis with preliminary discussion with NRC. Unanimously approved.


Abbitt- we’re wasting our time looking at cost aspects and marketing if the mining process is not safe

Sen. Frank Wagner - looking at prices, market aspect is necessary. I think with any operations we have to ensure there is a market for it.

Finances need to be there to afford it.

Lee Ware - A wide ranging study would incorporate at least everything Karmis has brought before us.

Del. Kristen Amundson - I think the most important issues are safety and environmental aspects. Move supply and demand part of study far down the line. At some point you have to understand the market part, but we need to move it down the line.

Michael Karmis - It’s important to develop a background of the uranium mining that has been done in other places.

Amundson - We have a lot of people in attendence here (about 100), we need to lead this study with safety and environmental issues.

2:24 p.m.

Del. Kristen Amundsen - I thought it was National Academy of Sciences, not the NRC.

Karmis - it’s the same thing, just different terminology.

Del. Watkins Abbitt questions why committee should study market aspects of uranium. That’s for the private sector.

Why aren’t we focusing on its safety? Abbitt asked.

2:20 p.m.
Karmis is speaking about the outline of the study

Identify uranium demand around the world and compare it to uranium Virginia.

Study topics

closure and post-mining land use and monitoring

minesite monitoring

local groundwater and surface water monitoring

Socioeconomic study outline is still a work in progress
Finalize it after the technical aspect of study has been finalized.

2:10 p.m.

Karmis is about speaking the developed scope is a framework on which you base your study.
The whole idea is to go to experts.

Study framework to identify.

Our recommendations is based on mining regulations and practices for many years.

The point is to develop and send the study objectives to the entity that will perform the study.

Objective will be to do technical study and other aspects of study. And to look at the geographic aspects.

Seriously consider engaging the National Research Council to identify nationally-recognized experts to perform the study.

Looking at a year and a half timeline for the studty.

NRC should be first entity to contact so they can find qualified experts to perform the study.

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