JEFF E. SCHAPIRO TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published: March 24, 2009
A Virginia panel this afternoon tentatively gave a green light to a study on opening the state to uranium mining.
A subcommittee of the Virginia Commission on Coal and Energy endorsed an initial outline of the inquiry, which would examine health, environmental and technical issues, as well as the social and financial implications of mining.
Uranium mining has been illegal in Virginia since the early 1980s. But two families in Southside Virginia own property that contains a giant deposit of uranium, potentially worth billions of dollars.
The study pegged to the proposed mine in Pittsylvania County could last at least a year and a half. It would be conducted by the National Academy of Science and could be paid for by industry proponents.
Residents of the area fear that a study bankrolled by advocates will be weighted in favor of the proposed mine.
But Michael Karmis, director of Virginia Tech's Coal and Energy Research Center, says the foundation relies only on scientific and technical information.
Karmis is serving as a liaison between the commission and the National Academy of Science.