By John Crane
Published: April 22, 2009
Groups presenting an anti-mining seminar at Averett University tonight will not circulate a petition as planned to ban uranium mining in Pittsylvania County and remove the Board of Supervisors if it doesn’t adopt a new county constitution outlawing the practice.
Averett officials requested that the petition not be included in an anti-uranium presentation Tuesday.
“We respectfully asked the Alliance to refrain from introducing the petition at this educational forum, and they are cooperating with our request,” Susan Huckstep, Averett spokeswoman, said via e-mail Tuesday.
The Alliance and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund are presenting the seminar. Gregg Vickrey, a founder and chairman of the Alliance, said he had no problem with the school’s request, and the event will take place as scheduled at 7 p.m. today at Averett’s student center.
“They’re trying to offer educational forums, and I respect that,” Vickrey said. He said the Alliance hopes to debut the petition at a later event at a different location.
Shireen Parsons, Virginia community organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, will also speak at the seminar about how a community can practice self-governance.
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 the practice.
Opponents have drafted the petition, which demands that supervisors ban uranium mining within three months of receiving it. The petition also calls for an election of 11 people to draft a new constitution for the county, which would ban uranium mining and would recognize the right to self-government. The county’s chapter of Southside Concerned Citizens would oversee the election.
The petition calls for residents to vote on ratification of the constitution and to declare that the supervisors be given the choice to adopt it. If the board doesn’t, the constitution would still become law and a special election would be held to elect new supervisors. Vickrey said he hopes everyone attends the presentation to see what the groups have to say and make informed decisions.