We agree that VUI should seek outside investigation of its neighbors' well contamination ASAP. We agree that the source of the contamination needs to be identified. But we're not so sure that VUI will be exonerated and it's that possibility which will prevent VUI from being the "good neighbor" it claims it wants to be. ...SB
Published By The Edtorial Board
Danville Register & Bee:
March 29, 2009
Uranium mining opponents scored a victory of sorts this week when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would study and review up to 200 applications for surface coal mines, including controversial mountaintop removal mines.
The EPA wants to know if the proposed mines will harm streams and wetlands.
To those opposed to uranium mining in Pittsylvania County, mountaintop removal mines are an example of what can happen when something that is legal and done within the framework of government rules and regulations still causes problems for people, their communities and the environment.
By extension, those opposed to uranium mining believe a similar thing could happen if Virginia eventually lifts its moratorium. Virginia Uranium Inc. could follow state and federal rules and regulations and still wind up creating problems for local people and the environment of the Dan River Region.
Virginia Uranium Inc. is years away from being able to mine the Coles Hill site in Pittsylvania County and it’s already being accused of causing environmental problems.
Sheva resident Allen Gross believes that the company’s exploratory test drilling has caused lead levels in his well water to rise. The test drilling has been used to “map” the underground deposits of uranium at Coles Hill, helping VUI determine the quantity and quality of the underground ore deposit.
“Wells with reported lead levels in the water are all in geologically and hydrologically isolated areas that are unaffected by activities conducted by our company,” said VUI geologist and spokesman Patrick Wales. He pointed out that VUI’s test drilling and the Gross family well were separated by creeks and ridges of land.
“Water doesn’t flow uphill,” Wales said.
It certainly doesn’t, and it’s unfair to blame VUI for something that it hasn’t done wrong.
At the same time, though, the company shouldn’t miss an opportunity created by this accusation. Since VUI believes that it’s not responsible for increased lead levels in the Gross family well, it should call on the state to find the source of the pollution — if that can be determined.
That would allow Virginia Uranium to publicly exonerate its test drilling program using a third-party investigation, and to teach the community that a lot of different things can affect the quantity and quality of well water.
Virginia Uranium should ask the state to study rising lead levels in a nearby water well. The company certainly shouldn’t have to bear the burden of bad publicity and negative perceptions for something it did not do.http://www.godanriver.com/gdr/news/opinion/editorials/danville_editorials/article/searching_for_connections/10026/