Thursday, October 29, 2009

NRC committee to meet to discuss uranium study

The National Research Council governing board’s executive committee will meet next month to discuss the study that would determine whether uranium can be mined and milled safely in Virginia.

The meeting will take place Nov. 10 in Washington and will be closed to the public, said Jennifer Walsh, spokeswoman for the National Academy of Sciences.

Walsh said she does not know if the committee will decide during next month’s meeting whether to approve the study.

Virginia Uranium Inc. seeks to mine and mill a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham. VUI, through Virginia Tech’s Center for Coal and Energy Research, would pay for the study’s first phase focusing on the technical and public-safety aspects of mining.

That first phase would cost as much as $1.4 million. Virginia Tech’s Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research would handle the money and contract with the NAS for the study. The second part of the study, dealing with the socioeconomic aspects of mining, still needs to be developed by the Virginia Coal & Energy Commission. VUI would not fund the second part.

If the governing board approves the study request, the next step would be the NRC negotiating and entering into a contract with Virginia Tech’s Center for Coal and Energy Research. The board would then appoint a provisional committee of about a dozen scientific experts to perform the study and write its report.

There will be public comment regarding the makeup of the committee, William Kearney, NRC spokesman, said last month.

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