Monday, January 2, 2012

Pittsylvan​ia County farmer takes uranium mining debate to heart

Pittsylvania County farmer takes uranium mining debate to heart

Justin Ward Reporter
1:21 p.m. EST, December 29, 2011


Uranium mining is likely to be the hot button issue when Virginia lawmakers begin work in a couple of weeks up in Richmond.

A proposal to lift a statewide ban on the mining of the radioactive mineral is polarizing and personally impactful.

Consider the case of a 200-year-old farm near a proposed uranium mine site in Pittsylvania County.

The 104 acre farm has been in farmer Byron Motley's family for seven generations.

But keeping his property up to par isn't what's waking him up in the middle of the night, it's worrying whether he'll get to keep it.

Motley and his family live about two miles from the proposed uranium mine site at Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County.

Part of his property falls under, what recent studies have called, a contamination or condemned zone.

According to one of those studies, mining and milling uranium can drastically lower underground water levels and could place by-products in well water.

Underground water is the only source available to Motley and his neighbors.

Even if he's not asked to move, his well water could possibly be contaminated.

"You got several thousand people that will have to leave. I mean, in one mile of this facility there is 250 wells and I'm sure there anywhere from one to six people living off each well," Motley said.

"I don't know where I could go and call it home. This is been my home all my life," Motley said.

He's not the only person that the proposed site could impact. Thousands of people may be affected if the ban on uranium mining is lifted. That proposal has not been introduced at the capitol in Richmond, but is expected to be the subject of major debate in the legislature.

It's a lot of memories, a lot of heritage and something I would like to preserve and have for the future," Motley said.

Read more and watch the great interview:,0,6827627.story?mid=566