Wednesday, June 23, 2010

300 turn out for spirited uranium hearing in Southside

Comment:  Please review the letter that will be sent to local media and Commission about a problem of the signup sheets procedure:

June 23, 2010

Dear Media and Committee:

I would like to make a complaint about procedures for signup sheets at any Committee meetings because we had a problem at the Virginia Commission on Coal and Energy's Uranium Mining Subcommittee Tuesday, June 22 at Chatham.

The first 19 speakers at the study were being considered illegal because someone signed the people up, plus the handwriting was the same.

I ask the question to the Committee about the relationship between them and the nuclear/uranium industry because of representation of the first 19 speakers on the signup sheet.

Mr. Ware's was not aware of the same hand writing of the first 19 speakers and said they all came early and then went out to eat.

Well, I informed him that the locals were there before 4:00 pm and two young men with a video camera went into the building early. The first name on the list was Mr. -Ray Ganthner, Chairman, Virginia Energy Independence Alliance and also is Senior Vice President, New Plants Deployment, AREVA NP Inc in Lynchburg but Mr. Ganther is part of Areva!

The rest of first 19 speakers were Pro Uranium mining and a most of the speakers do not live in our county.

But none of the Virginia Media in Southside mentioned the illegal pro Nuclear Power and Pro uranium mining names on the signup sheet but Mr. Watkins Abbitt remarked that those who wished to speak should sign in themselves and he would look into it.

So I think this should be reported and changes should be made by the Committee signup procedure.

Also, my suggestions to any government agencies with signup sheets is to have a Pro sheet, an Against sheet and undecided sheets.

Then the Committee could alternate the sheets when calling the speakers.

Now that will be a fair and balance procedure.

Thank you,

Deborah Dix
Blairs, VA 24540

Published: June 23, 2010

CHATHAM --Uranium mining is depicted by supporters as for jobs in Southside Virginia, but foes say it's a big-dollar gamble not worth the risk.

"What we're looking at here is an opportunity for this area to move out of the old economy," said Jim Beard, a Martinsville geologist.

However, Georgie Stuart of Pittsylvania County later countered, "where was the new technology when that mine exploded in West Virginia? Where was the new technology in the gulf?"

In dueling testimony before a General Assembly panel last night, both sides in the emotional debate over a proposed uranium mine outside Chatham pressed legislators to fully examine the project's impact on the livelihoods, lifestyles and culture of a rural region hammered by the collapse of such traditional industries as textiles, tobacco and furniture.

The legislature's Coal and Energy Commission is authorizing a study on the social and economic effects of mining. It will be paid for up to $200,000 from Virginia's share of a giant settlement with cigarette makers.

Commission members traveled to Chatham for a public hearing on the scope of the inquiry, which -- coupled with a uranium industry-financed scientific study by the National Academy of Science -- could provide the basis for the assembly to lift, possibly in 2012, a 1982 ban on uranium mining and milling.

About 300 people turned out for the hearing; many were opponents.

Virginia Uranium Inc., a company formed by Pittsylvania County investors and backed by a Canadian energy firm, proposed extracting the radioactive ore from a 119-million-pound lode at Coles Hill, an 18th-century estate.

But the opposition, which has remained active after thwarting a first attempt to extract uranium two decades ago, considers mining a threat to farming and water supplies the region shares with population centers such as Virginia Beach, about 200 miles east.

"This is an emotional issue," said Jack Dunavant of Southside Concerned Citizens. "This is something that could potentially destroy this area."

Among the concerns that residents from Chatham and beyond said the social and economic study should address the impact on fisheries and water quality as well as tourist attractions, including Smith Mountain Lake, a resort community that draws heavily from the Roanoke area.

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