Published: April 9, 2009
To the editor:
The Chatham Garden Club’s tour of Coles Hill may be your last opportunity to tour this historic home and associated features. If the current moratorium on uranium mining is lifted, Coles Hill will be an isolated island in a sea of industrial activity. You’ll likely have to wear a hard hat to enter the area. The Santoy/Virginia Uranium Inc. 2009 Technical Report shows plans to relocate or close Virginia 690 (Coles Road).
The article “Garden Club to showcase Coles Hill,” (April 4, page A4) states that 600 acres surround the home and provide a protected area, which includes a family graveyard, renovated schoolhouse and stables, and that no uranium-related activity will take place on that property. However, according to the 2009 Technical Report, Coles Hill LLC (mineral lease company) will allow for underground mining in the protected area. The report also states that the owners of the surface rights gave written permission for 10 holes to be drilled in the protected area. Is this considered protecting? This is why we have concern regarding VUI’s concept of “safe mining.”
Perhaps the Coles family will eventually dismantle the historic structures and relocate them to a safer location. Hopefully, Walter Coles will respect and relocate his ancestors as well. The Garden Club of Virginia can then use funds from this year’s tour to restore the gardens at the newly located historic homestead.
I hope you’ll attend the Coles Hill tour. While there, take a deep breath of fresh country air and admire the pastoral view. Take note of our existing agricultural heritage in the area.
Then visualize its devastation. Imagine neighbors being notified of blasting schedules, two gigantic pits, mountains of toxic tailings and a pond of hazardous slurry. Perhaps the visualization of that which shall be lost forever will encourage you to become an active and vocal opponent of uranium mining in Virginia.
KAREN B. MAUTE