Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Greetings from the "Dead Zone" (Uranium Mining)

Comment:  A great post and please join our fight against Uranium Mining!  Which one do you want:  Cow poo or uranium?  Cow Poo!  No to uranium mining! 
AUGUST 11, 2010 4:01PM

Thanks for reading my blog.

To remind anyone who has read my previous posts, Chatham, Virginia in Pittsylvania County is the site of the Coles Hill, the largest uranium deposit in the United States of America with an estimated value of 8 to 10 billion dollars. Coles Hill is owned by Virginia Uranium Inc. of Virginia and Santoy Resources of Canada. If mined, Coles Hill will be able to suply enough home-grown uranium to meet the country's nuclear power needs for the next two years. A uranium mining study has been approved and is going forward. This week a lists of scientists working on the study was released to the public, and we, the people, have been asked to comment on those chosen for the job of ascertaining is uranium mining is "safe." Uranium mining is currently against the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This is my first post about the situation in more than six months. Why the silence? I decided that the situation here was a hard thing to think about, so I decided not to think about it. Too painful. Actually, I decided to think about it later. The safety study is supposed to take 2 years to complete. If uranium mining is deemed "safe" it will probably take a little more time for the Virginia Assembly to decider whether or not to overturn the current moratorium.

 I felt that there was no need to stress myself and that there was plenty of time to get involved.

However, last week, I changed my mind instantly after reading a letter-to-the-editor in the local paper the Start-Tribune. Paragraph 9 of the letter entitled, "Who Wants to be a Nuclear Saudi Arabia?" by Hunter Austin of Hurt, Virginia jolted me out of denial. Referring to the Santoy Resources website, Mr. Austin stated, "...under the company's prospectus for Coles Hill, their plan is to declare an area 8 miles from the center of each hole a 'dead zone'. Within the dead zone, they expect to lose all the ground water and drilled wells. That water will no longer be potable."

Who can read a paragraph like this without becoming extremely concerned? How could Coles Hill and Santoy plan to create a dead zone eight miles in radius in a productive farming community? How do they expect to get away with this? Do they plan to compensate people currently living in the soon to be dead zone now the currently very much alive zone? Are they going to purchase all the farms, all the homes, all the property 8 miles in radius? Are they going to pay relocation costs? Are they going to wait to be sued?

The entire town of Chatham is 4.5 miles from the mine or the hole, and thereby in the dead zone. My family's farm is a mile and a half from Coles Hill, and my current home is 4.5 miles away. Many of the town's people including myself feel threatened with extinction.

Regarding the safety study, I am a cynic - a cynic who has watched too many shows on the Public Broadcasting System and listened to too many programs on National Public Radio about scientisocets who have doctored their research to agree with the premises of individual, companies, or corporations funding the research. In this case, Water Coles of Coles Hill is funding the safety study now in progress in Pittsylvania County.

Safety is a relative term. Many people around here assume that uranium mining can be done safely. Many other people assume that it cannot be done without long-lasting and serious damage to the environment. Every week the arguments go back and forth in the local papers. What does "safe" mean. Perhaps it is safe for those living beyond the 8 mile radius from the mine. Perhaps it is safe, if it is mined but not milled on the Coles Hill property. Perhaps it is safe, if you are the one getting the money and not the ones getting dislocated and disempowered.

Thinking about this situation is a very big responsibility. Thinking about it is a major mind freak. Who is telling the truth? Despite my efforts to shut down the anxiety the situation arouses in me, I find myself driving down the road grieving over the beautiful green fields, clean waters, and blue skies.

I wish I could just enjoy them, but I feel threatened and feel a great need to protect the rivers, the wells, the trees, the farms, the farmers. Long live potable water!

Please don't destroy the water.

Must we all learn about nuclear energy, nuclear power, and how to make a nuclear reactor? Must we gather information from previous mining endeavors to learn how uranium mining effected air quality, water quality, the life style of the people living in the vicinity of the mines?

 I have heard some people complain that the Coles Hill mine will contaminate rivers as far away as Virginia Beach. Is this true? So it's time to learn about rivers and how creeks connect with rivers and how rivers connect with creeks and with the wells feed by those creeks. So is so much to learn in order to make an informed decision and again I ask myself "what is the essential information."

And what about modern advances in mining technology? I know those scientist are going to be telling us about the latest technological advances which will contribute to making it "safe." Leaning all this presents an obstacle. It's not that I'm mentally lazy. I'm coming from a great ignorance. Sure it's possible for me or any other concerned citizen to get the gists of why it's so important to make a nuclear reactor, but nuclear energy and mining technology are subjects that have just never interested me. I have considered them boring, okay more than boring, excruciatingly boring.

 Studying international markets for uranium and other precious commodiites is slightly more interesting. Still my brain just does not want to go there. As a dear friend once said, "You're no rocket scientist!" In fact, I think that's what the uranium chiefs are counting on as they plunk all those millions of dollars into their scientific safety study: the fact that nobody around here can drive a tractor comprehend a nuclear disaster at the same time. They might think that we are just a bunch of bumkins who are going to agree to roll over and die once the experts sound the all clear. "It's safe and furthermore, you'll have a job."

So in closing let me tell you about the Van der Hyde Diary right here in Chatham. The dairy is working on creating an alternate energy resource. They are converting the methane gas in cow manure into electricity. They have plenty of cows and hence plenty manure. They claim that they can generate enough electricity on their farm to light up the entire of town of Chatham for years to come.

Manure, unlike uranium, is a renewable resource.

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