Saturday, December 17, 2011

Don't bet the farm on Chmura

By: The Editorial Board
Published: December 06, 2011

To the editor:

Well, the eagerly awaited report entitled, "The Socioeconomic Impact of Uranium Mining and Milling in The Chatham Labor Shed, Virginia" is being presented in Chatham on Dec. 6.

This 179-page report was commissioned from Chumra Economics and Analystics by the Uranium Mining Subcommittee of the Virginia Commission on Coal and Energy to produce "a socioeconomic study to broadly consider the net benefits from a mining and milling operation in the Commonwealth."

Is anyone surprised to read the finding that "Over the life of the operation, the Coles Hill site could generate almost $5 billion in accumulated economic revenue for Virginia firms" and that it "will bring much needed economic benefits to Pittsylvania County." The projected "life of the operation" is 35 years.

Then one finds the following statement: "Chmura cannot model or predict the likelihood that these assumptions will hold true for the entire time the Coles Hills site is in existence. Similarly, we cannot predict with certainty whether the site will be maintained for centuries after its closure in such a manner that the toxic and carcinogenic substances stored at the former Coles Hill location will not adversely impact the environment or health of the surrounding communities."

To me, those statements mean Coles and his Canadian investors will make billions while Virginia and Pittsylvania County will pay forever after to monitor and maintain the closed mining area. I have yet to have anyone discuss what happens to the physical plant when the yellow cake mill closes. I would assume it would be a building in which squatters, from the health standpoint, should not take up residence.

Please note again the statement by Chumra that it "cannot model nor predict that likelihood these assumptions will hold true" throughout the existence of Coles Hill.

Now read the article in the Nov. 29, 2011, Wall Street Journal entitled "French Nuclear Firm Areva in Talks to Build Wind Farms."

Areva, of course, has a plant in Lynchburg, and for years has been pushing anything connected with uranium as fuel for electricity and naval ships. This article stated Areva has been "buffeted" since the Japanese plant disaster "which dented demand for the company’s key atomic products." Also stated was the fact that Aveva for several years has been trying to build up solar, wind and biomass business.

Looks like one of the leaders in preaching uranium-generated electricity is changing its stance. So maybe we should not bet the farm on Chumra’s less-than-ironclad guarantee for economic heaven for 35 years?