Saturday, May 9, 2009

Uranium Mining Subcommittee to meet on issue May 21 in Richmond

Look at this...does it say anything about Coles Hill or Southside specifically?'s all state-wide. The public hearing...the request for Chambers of Commerce to participate in developing questions and identify areas of concern? All because Coles Hill has been identified as the first area that will be mined, not because anyone cares specifically about Southside. Folks, you've been duped!

By Staff

Published: May 9, 2009

The Virginia Coal & Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee has released the final draft of the first part of the study to be undertaken by the National Research Council to determine whether uranium can be safely mined and milled in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Coal & Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee will meet regarding the final draft at 2:30 p.m. May 21 in the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

There has been a statewide moratorium on uranium mining and milling since 1982, but restricted uranium exploration has been allowed in Virginia since 2007. Virginia Uranium Inc. hopes to mine and mill a 119-million pound uranium ore deposit at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham.

The NRC study will examine the scientific, technical, environmental, human health and safety, and regulatory aspects of uranium mining, milling and processing. A draft for the second part of the study, dealing with the socioeconomic aspects of uranium mining, has not been decided upon by the Uranium Mining subcommittee.

According to the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, the study will:

Review global and national uranium market trends.

Identify and briefly describe the main types of uranium deposits worldwide, including, for example, geologic characteristics, mining operations, and best practices.

Review the geologic, environmental, geographic, climatic, and cultural settings and exploration status of uranium resources in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Review the primary technical options and best practice approaches for uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation that might be applicable within the Commonwealth of Virginia, including discussion of improvements made since 1980 in the design, construction and monitoring of tailings impoundments.

Review the state and federal regulatory framework for uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation.

Review federal requirements for secure handling of uranium materials, including personnel, transportation, site security and material control and accountability.

Assess the potential short- and long-term occupational and public health and safety considerations from uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation, including the potential human health effects from exposure to “daughter’ products of radioactive decay of uranium.

Identify the issues that may need to be considered regarding the quality and quantity of groundwater and surface water and the quality of soil and air from uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation. As relevant, water and waste management and severe weather effects or other stochastic events may also be considered.

Assess the potential ecosystem issues for uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation.

Identify baseline data and approaches necessary to monitor environmental and human impacts associated with uranium mining, milling, processing and reclamation.

Briefly characterize a potential public education and outreach program in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a uranium mining operation (for example, health and safety issues, inspection and enforcement, community right-to-know, emergency planning.).

The study will take about two years. If the study finds uranium can be mined and milled safely in the Commonwealth, the General Assembly would decide whether to lift the moratorium on the practice.

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