Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coalition forms to address uranium concerns

Comment:  The most important statement of all:  “Virginia’s worth more than uranium,” Raab said.
By: Tara Bozick |
Published: December 29, 2011 Updated: December 29, 2011 - 8:00 AM

Halifax County area business owners and other professionals formed The Virginia Coalition on Tuesday in an effort to keep the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia.

Many felt the socioeconomic reports and National Academy of Sciences study on uranium mining released this month didn’t allay concerns about potential health risks.

The General Assembly could take up the issue of whether to allow uranium mining next session, although opponents and local lawmakers would like to wait until 2013.

The coalition is affiliated with the Roanoke River Basin Association, a staunch opponent of Virginia Uranium Inc.’s proposed project to mine and mill a uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. Andrew Lester, the water group’s executive director, will also head up The Virginia Coalition.

The group aims to distribute study information and educate the public and legislators about uranium issues in hopes of maintaining the 30-year moratorium. It would like residents to share concerns with their representatives.

Lester said the group is different from environmental groups in that it comprises business, medical and health professionals who are concerned about potential health impacts from uranium mining. The group’s founders would like to attract members from the region and throughout the state.

“I think the health risks are just too dangerous,” said Tom Raab, a Halifax resident who has owned the Electric Service Company store in South Boston for 32 years.

Raab is one of the coalition founders and worries that a local uranium industry could keep other companies or jobs from coming into the region. After other events that weren’t supposed to happen, like the Gulf oil spill or the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Raab said he doesn’t want to chance radioactive waste contamination from uranium mining.

“Virginia’s worth more than uranium,” Raab said.

Other founding coalition members include: Delegate James Edmunds, R-Halifax, former Delegate Ted Bennett, retired NASCAR star Ward Burton, CEO Chris Lumsden of Halifax Regional Health System, Chairman John Cannon of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (also a member of the Virginia Tobacco Commission), and Lisa Kipps-Brown owner of Glerin Business Resources

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