Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Visitors Didn't Get Entire Uranium Story

This is the response to Glenn Giles' letter below. The Chatham Star-Tribune, Altavista Journal and other newspapers are owned and published by the same family and company.

The Altavista Journal
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This is in response to Glenn Giles' recent letter, "Area residents visit uranium site." I, along with others, did as Mr. Giles did and contacted Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) for their "briefing" as they like to call it. I also have done little else but study this matter since it was brought to my attention some 18 months ago. I believe it is only sensible to listen to all sides (there are normally more than two sides to any issue) and draw your own intelligent conclusions.

What, exactly, did Mr. Giles expect to hear during his visit to VUI's offices and the Coles Hill site, except the absolute best-case scenario about uranium mining and milling when there is so much money for them to make at stake?

Did he expect to hear the truth about the illness, destruction and devastation that has been left in the wake of uranium mining and milling throughout the western United States?

Did he think any of VUI's "friendly and professional hosts" would even mention, let alone discuss, the thousands of abandoned uranium mine sites in this country, the ones that have leached radioactive waste into the soil and water for years and wait for the federal government to come clean them up at taxpayer expense?

Did he expect anyone to mention that many of the towns associated with mining and milling in other parts of the U.S. have become ghost towns after the mines were exhausted and mills done with processing because of the widespread radioactive contamination can't be remediated? Of course not!

VUI is going to give its visitors the nicest, most pleasant and reassuring fairy tale of uranium mining and milling its public relations firms can dream up. It has to. If it spoke the truth on any aspect of uranium mining and/or milling as it's been done in this country or around the world, for that matter, its visitors would flee so quickly the lovely hosts would see only a blur of flailing limbs. That's certainly not the reaction VUI needs for its visitors to experience. VUI needs its visitors to leave believing that the planned uranium mine and mill will be the biggest, safest boon to Southside in decades, not that it will be the biggest gamble in the history of Southside, which will use the Giles family's lives and yours and mine as the ante. And VUI surely doesn't want the Giles family or yours or mine to know that so far, everywhere in the world where this gamble has been taken, the winners were only a handful of stakeholders and investors. The rest of the folks, those whose lives were the ante, lost big. Very big.

No one who has spent any time at all researching the realities of uranium mining and milling could sit still and listen to what sounds like the biggest bunch of self-serving malarkey being served up anywhere in Southside these days. But VUI depends on its visitors to be ignorant of the truth about what it plans to do, not just to Coles Hill, but also to Southside. It needs local citizens to be brainwashed by its PR magic and old southern hospitality so that they won't want to believe the truth, if they even try to seek the truth. Sometimes fantasy presentations, also known as propaganda, are so cleverly crafted that the truth appears too ugly to be believed, especially when those who speak the truth can offer no wonderful promises except for a healthy environment for us and our children with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

I encourage Mr. Giles and those who accompanied him to the VUI "briefing" and visit to the Coles Hill site to realize that what they heard and saw while being entertained by VUI was just that, entertainment. And I encourage them to spend as much time as they did with VUI in pursuit of the other side of the story, the side that tells the harsh, unvarnished truth about the widespread illness, destruction and contamination of all living things that will ensue should VUI proceed with its plan to mine Coles Hill. Perhaps, after hearing and/or reading the rest of the story, Mr. Giles will understand that the long and interesting history of Pittsylvania County, of which he has been a dedicated steward, will, for all intents and purposes, end when the first rock is blasted loose in Coles Hill as those living in the shadow and contamination pathways of Coles Hill will be required to leave in order to preserve their health and lives.

Mr. Giles and his family and guests deserved the truth about uranium mining and milling. They didn't get it, but they got a pleasant outing. I hope, that for their own sakes and for the sakes of their grandchildren and their grandchildren, he and his guests will realize that what they heard from VUI is only one tiny theoretical piece of the story and a piece that, as of right now, has not yet been a part of the reality of any town in America in which uranium has been mined or milled. And I hope they'll wonder why and make every effort to find out.

VUI did not show me any sort of plan to mine or mill uranium, even though they want to do what is an illegal activity now in the state of Virginia. Every business owner knows that you must have a plan to implement it to its best and most profitable use. Any question that I asked was answered by, "That is why we need a study." I believe the company must have a plan, otherwise, how on earth do they know even a simple thing as how many people they have reported numerous times hiring? Did they pull those figures out of their magical hat or make them up? Why won't VUI disclose its plans? Why are they keeping everyone in the dark? Maybe they know that we would not believe the magic if they did not skirt the issue and were forthcoming in all aspects.

I keep remembering the last week of school when we were under a tornado watch and the county schools wisely kept our children at school where they would be safe, and my child did not get home until almost 5 p.m. That night at my home, we received over seven inches of rain, which overflowed everything including my swimming pool and goldfish pond. How could that be contained in a holding pond? Would we have the same disaster as they did in Tennessee with the coal sludge pond dam breaking? I am only talking about one incident. What about 30 years worth of uncontrollable situations? How many times have we been under a flood watch just this year?

Deborah Lovelace


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