Thursday, November 18, 2010

NAS committee reviews uranium regulations in Virginia

Hear the siren, people of VA, do you want to hear blasting and sirens all thru the nite?  Get involved and stop this now!  No to uranium mining and milling!

Comment:  Why is the NAS writing regulations for mining, it reminds me of the Bill SB 525 which also focus on regulations of the uranium mining and not the health or environmental damage of uranium mining.  The bill was defeated because the way it is written!  What is up with the NAS - looks like no science is behind this study just the corporate funding pushing their own agenda to blow up the hills of Virginia for uranium monies!  No to the NAS Study paid for by Virginia Uranium Inc, funneled by Virginia Tech, it is a bias study!

By Tara Bozick
Published: November 15, 2010


Conventional methods use underground or open pit mining to remove the rock. That’s then delivered to the mill, where the rock is crushed and the uranium is leached and concentrated to form yellowcake.

Yet, Chatham-based Virginia Uranium Inc. proposes to use conventional methods to extract uranium from the 119-million-pound ore body at Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County. Company scientists ruled out in-situ recovery as a viable method because of the impermeable rock.

All of this is what the National Academy of Sciences’ provisional committee heard at an information-gathering session Monday at the Melrose Hotel in Washington.

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission asked the NAS to study the scientific aspects of uranium mining in Virginia, including best practices, improvements and state and federal regulatory framework.

The comprehensive report, due in December next year, will help state leaders determine whether uranium mining can be done safely in Virginia.

Colorado is reviewing the only application since then, he added. Texas, Colorado and Utah regulate their uranium recovery operations as they entered strict agreements with the NRC.

The NRC would regulate uranium milling in Virginia, while the state would regulate the mining, he said.

The White Mesa Mill in Utah is the only currently operating conventional mill in the United States, von Till said.

Yet, the NRC has more than 30 years of experience with mills and there have been a lot of improvements — like liners, tailings management and groundwater monitoring — to protect the public from mill sites, von Till said.

Committee member Jill Lipoti, director of the Division of Environmental Safety and Health at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, asked if there were more modern mills.

Von Till said the agency doesn’t have an example for mills after groundwater regulations took effect in the 1980s

James Weeks of the Mine Safety and Health Administration told the committee there is a strong regulatory presence in mines across the country, including with inspections, but the agency hasn’t had a lot of experience with uranium mines. MSHA is responsible for the health and safety of the nation’s miners. (Well, this is not true, MSHA let's the coal corporation get away with murder! per Ace)

If uranium mines were to come back, the agency would need to gear up its capabilities, Weeks said in response to committee member questions.

Uranium mines could use better monitoring and workers need better education about potential health hazards if a resurgence occurs, said Larry Elliott of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Yet, the nation doesn’t have many experienced uranium miners who understand radiation exposure risks, he added.

NIOSH would like a national registry of workers, better record-keeping and tools like personal dosimeters used to detect and measure radiation in real time. The agency also recommends a lower exposure limit for radon than currently exists, he said.

Yet, the presentations to the committee showed Cale Jaffe, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, how little modern experience the nation has in conventional mining and milling.

“We are heading into uncharted territory,” Jaffe said. “That’s a sobering proposition.”

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