Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Demands put uranium mining foes at odds

It should be noted that Eloise Nenon is a founding member of Southside Concerned Citizens who remains actively committed to SCC and to the defeat of uranium mining at Coles Hill.

By John Crane

Published: April 22, 2009

A board member of Southside Concerned Citizens said she does not support the petition that would demand that the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors ban uranium mining.

If supervisors refused to ban uranium mining in the county, they would be declared “illegitimate under the Virginia Constitution,” according to the petition The Alliance and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund planned to circulate at a meeting at Averett University on Wednesday night. Averett officials asked that the petition not be circulated at the meeting, and the groups complied.

Virginia Uranium Inc. seeks to mine and mill a 119-million pound uranium ore deposit at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham.

Virginia currently has a moratorium on uranium mining.

The petition demands that supervisors ban uranium mining within three months of receiving it. It also calls on residents to vote on ratification of a proposed county constitution banning uranium mining and to declare that the supervisors be given the choice to adopt it. If the board doesn’t, the constitution wouldstill become law and a special election would be held to elect new supervisors.

The petition also states the Pittsylvania County Chapter of Southside Concerned Citizens, an anti-uranium mining group, would oversee a county election of 11 people to draft a county constitution banning uranium mining and recognizing the right to community self-governance.

Eloise Nenon, a board member of Southside Concerned Citizens, said the group would not be a part of the effort to overthrow the county’s Board of Supervisors.

“We are opposed to that process, and we will not participate in that,” Nenon said during a telephone interview Wednesday.

Gregg Vickrey, a founder and chairman of The Alliance, said the petition mentioning the SCC was the wrong one. Vickrey used to chair the Pittsylvania County SCC, but left the group in February to form The Alliance.

Shireen Parsons, Virginia community organizer with the CELDF, said the petition mentioning SCC was an old copy, and that the voting process would be determined later if the scenario described in the petition became reality.

Nenon said she prefers to work within the existing system of government to educate lawmakers about the environmental consequences from uranium mining. The Pittsylvania County chapter of SCC never formally existed, Nenon said.

Parsons said whatever Nenon does is her choice.

“This is democracy,” Parsons said. “She can do whatever she wants.”

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