Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Pittsylvania County lawmakers wary of lifting uranium ban

Comments:  Keep the uranium ban and no need to write regulations, we do not want them to start at all!
By: Tim Ciesco | WSLS
Published: December 20, 2011

This week, a highly anticipated report from the National Academy of Sciences was released and presented to state leaders. Though the report made no recommendation on whether the ban should be lifted, it did lay out the risks associated with uranium mining and provided some insight on how to mitigate those problems.

But that’s not enough for Delegate Don Merricks, a Republican, who says there are still many questions that need to be answered before the General Assembly should take any action.

“There’s a lot to digest and I’m hoping we can put it off for a year,” said Merricks, who represents part of Pittsylvania County, where a mine has been proposed. “Somebody may introduce a bill. I think it’s a little premature. The [NAS] study indicated that really more study is needed.”

Merricks says he plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming session to keep the ban in place for now.

Republican State Senator Bill Stanley, who also represents Pittsylvania County, points out the report looks at uranium drilling nationally and is not specific to Coles Hill, where a mine has been proposed.

“That increases my belief that a more intense study of Coles Hill needs to be done,” said Stanley. “I think we need to look at that. We need to move slowly.”

Stanley says the Legislature can begin discussing that regulatory framework without lifting the ban.

“I think we can put the cart before the horse and task the state with devising mining safety and environmental regulations, then consider them when we ultimately decide to lift the ban or not,” said Stanley.