By Published by The Editorial Board
Published: April 19, 2009
Chatham-Blairs Supervisor Hank Davis wants to know why lead levels have been rising in the Gross family’s well in Sheva.
It’s a question everyone in Pittsylvania County should be asking.
To opponents of uranium mining in the county, the circumstantial evidence points to Virginia Uranium Inc.
VUI has drilled exploratory holes at Coles Hill to learn more about what is believed to be the largest uranium deposit in North America. Lead levels in the Gross’ well started to rise after the drilling started.
But that doesn’t prove anything. It only makes further investigation more important.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s caused by the uranium,” Davis said this week. “What’s important is finding what’s causing it and getting those people help.”
To get the basic questions answered, Davis wants the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Health to investigate.
That’s a smart use of public resources to answer questions that pertain to everyone who drinks well water in the county. We strongly urge other supervisors to get behind Davis on this issue.
For its part, VUI has said that the Gross’ well is located upstream from Coles Hill and the exploratory drilling could not have been the source of the rising lead levels.
Today, we know of no scientific evidence that links VUI and its exploratory well drilling to any environmental problems in the area. The company deserves the benefit of the doubt.
But this well water issue has become a challenge for VUI — and Pittsylvania County.
For Virginia Uranium Inc., this accusation puts the company on the defensive as the state undertakes a study of the safety of uranium mining. We believe the company should join with Davis and the Board of Supervisors and ask for the EPA and the state health department to investigate.
For Pittsylvania County, this accusation is a test. Virginia Uranium has been accused of damaging local water wells. The Board of Supervisors has proclaimed that the company’s activities must not harm the community.
It’s time for definitive answers.
We don’t know why there were 2.83 parts per billion of lead in the Gross’ well before VUI started exploratory drilling, and why there were 17.9 parts per billion last September.
If the company had something to do with that, the community needs to know.
If the company had nothing to do with that, the community needs to know that, too. It’s time for answers, and one way to get them is for the Board of Supervisors to follow Davis’ lead and bring in the outside help the county needs to get to the bottom of this issue.