March 26, 2009
Star City Harbinger
"Senator Deeds has serious reservations about whether uranium can be mined in Virginia. He looks forward to reviewing the study, but he believes that our top priorities must be to ensure the protection of our water supply and the safety of all workers. He is not convinced that uranium mining can meet either of these requirements."
Earlier this week, Terry McAuliffe waffled on the issue of whether “he’d back uranium mining in Virginia as he expanded what he calls his business plan for the state,” according to The Associated Press. A Virginia commission study on the impacts of uranium mining first reported in The Washington Post last November is ongoing.
Today, Southside Virginia Against Uranium Mining linked up an article from The Richmond Dispatch on the latest action at the commission:
A Virginia panel is giving the go-ahead to a study on opening the state to uranium mining and likely bankrolled by the industry — raising fears that the research will be weighted in favor of proponents.
McAuliffe had an opportunity to take a strong and principled whack at a serious issue, but he bunted.
Virginia Beach officials recognized this a few months ago when they came out strongly against the proposed study, citing concerns over the possible effects of a uranium mine nearly 200 miles away from the coast.
It is no secret that the land containing the hard sought stash is in the hands of two families and is largely pursued by one corporation, Virginia Uranium Inc., which claims that lifting the Commonwealth’s longstanding ban on uranium mining will create jobs for southside Virginia.
The folks at a NFNB have a great summary of the reasons why the estimated $10 billion at stake from Virginia Uranium, Inc., is a fool’s wager . . .
Scientific evidence and history tells us that uranium mining and exploration represents irreversible consequences to the health of our ecosystems, watersheds, wildlife, agriculture and recreation, and communities nearby, downstream or down-wind. Uranium mining and milling produces huge volumes of long-lived radioactive tailings. Radioactive by-products including thorium-230, radium-226 and radon-222 are formed as uranium atoms slowly disintegrate over billions of years. These radioactive elements can easily enter the environment from unstable uranium mill tailings where they can stay for 100,000 years. People living near uranium tailings receive significant increases to exposure to radioactive elements that are linked to serious health conditions such as various cancers and reproductive health conditions.
President Obama succinctly defined what I’ve called the progressive trifecta–health care, education and sustainable energy–Virginians need a governor who understands that the points of this triangle intersect and are interrelated.
So, with all the emerging technological options available to an innovative nation with a well-developed higher education system like the United States and a state like Virginia, why spend time and resources (either public or private) on the dubious science of a by-gone era?
After the story broke regarding McAuliffe’s non-answer on the issue of uranium mining, I wondered what Senator Deeds (D-Bath) thought about an issue that is arguably closer to his neck of the woods (I’ve long since given up on trying to contact the Moran Campaign . . . it’s cool, whatever . . . sniff . . . sniff).
Southside, like southwest Virginia, is hemorrhaging jobs. Impatient politicians clamor for quick solutions. This is understandable, but unwise.
I asked Deeds Campaign Communications Director Brooke Borkenhagen to pass a question along to her boss. I wanted to know if Deeds was willing to conjecture on the record about the long-term efficacy of uranium mining in Virginia before the results of the study are released.
Deeds shares the intuition of the bulk of the scientific community. Borkenhagen told me:
Senator Deeds has serious reservations about whether uranium can be mined in Virginia. He looks forward to reviewing the study, but he believes that our top priorities must be to ensure the protection of our water supply and the safety of all workers. He is not convinced that uranium mining can meet either of these requirements.
Better-known blogs have suggested Deeds is a tool of the coal industry. I wouldn’t know.
Last Fall, I heard candidate Obama talk favorably about clean coal; Joe Biden may have thought otherwise.
Confused? Sure. But the science that says uranium mining is a hazard we can’t afford is clear.
Deeds understands that, and that may speak volumes about how he will approach the entire spectrum of issues related to energy and the environment, both human and ecological.
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