Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Undecideds URGENT to call NOW! / Uranium Deposit Spurs Spat / We don’t need a scientific study to find out the stigma attached to uranium mining

Comments from Friend, KM: I cannot adequately express the importance of these calls immediately!!! Make these calls NOW.
Undecideds URGENT to call NOW! The following 7 Senators have been identified as crucial votes on the first committees to hear the uranium bill. If everyone calls these Senators to ask them to oppose uranium mining then we might be able to kill the bill in committee. Please call the Senators and ask to speak to their aide. Tell the aide that you would like the Senator to vote to oppose uranium mining and give them the name of your city, town or county. Then ask if the Senator has a position. If you find out that the Senator has taken a firm decision then report that information to fcm@gamewood.net  Please ask your family, friends and network to call these Senators:

Colgan [D] C/L, F804-698-7529 district29@senate.virginia.gov Manassas City (All

Stosch C/L, F 804-698-7512 district12@senate.virginia.gov Hanover County (Part); Henrico County (Part)

Stuart [R] Ag, C/L 804-698-7528 district28@senate.virginia.gov King George County (Part); Prince William County (Part); Spotsylvania County (Part); Stafford County (Part); Westmoreland County (Part)

Newman [R] F C/L 804-698-7523district23@senate.virginia.gov Bedford City (All);

Wagner [R] F, C/L 804-698-7507 district07@senate.virginia.govNorfolk City (Part); Virginia Beach City (Part)

Norment [R] F C/L 804-698-7503district03@senate.virginia.gov Gloucester County (All); Hampton City (Part); Isle of Wight County (Part); James City County (Part); King and Queen County (All); King William County (All); New Kent County (All); Poquoson City (All); Suffolk City (Part); Surry County (Part); York County (Part)

Martin [R] C/L 804-698-7511district11@senate.virginia.gov Amelia County (All); Chesterfield County (Part); Colonial Heights City (All)
Breaking News:  Flooding at Coles Hill, today!
Uranium Deposit Spurs Spat
Fight Over Safety of Nuclear Energy Heats Up as Virginia Weighs Mining Proposal A version of this article appeared January 15, 2013, on page A3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Uranium Deposit Spurs Spat. By CAMERON MCWHIRTER
A campaign to develop a large uranium mine has ignited a lobbying war in Virginia, the latest eruption in a national debate over the safety of nuclear energy.
The proposed project is set to move to the fore this week, when State Sen. John C. Watkins, a Republican from a Richmond suburb, is expected to submit legislation that would lift Virginia's three-decade-old moratorium on uranium mining.
Ryan Stone for The Wall Street Journal 2
Walter Coles owns the 3,500-acre farm in southern Virginia where the nation's largest undeveloped deposit of uranium oxide is located.
Ending the ban would open the way for a company in rural southern Virginia to mine the largest known deposit of undeveloped uranium in the U.S. The company, Virginia Uranium Inc., estimates it holds at least 119 million pounds of uranium oxide, the  underneath part of a 3,500-acre farm.
While uranium mines operate across sparsely populated, drier parts of the western U.S., this would be the first set up on the more densely populated, wetter East Coast, where environmentalists fear radioactive material produced by such mining could contaminate water supplies and be carried greater distances.
Lobbyists for Virginia Uranium and supporters of the project say the mine wouldn't contaminate local water supplies, and any radioactive pollution caused at the proposed mine would be contained.
But a coalition of environmental groups, other activists and elected Democratic and Republican officials have launched their own effort to kill the idea, arguing it would endanger the state's environment and water supply. They say nuclear disasters like the one in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, or in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986, show inherent dangers in nuclear energy. Though both those events were at nuclear plants, not mines, they say mining radioactive ore is too risky.
"This is an extraordinary high-stakes gamble with some huge risks," said Cale Jaffe, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is part of the coalition.
Uranium mining produces radioactive waste and contaminates part of the ground where it is processed. Mr. Wales estimated the Coles Hill operation would pollute about 200 acres that would have to be managed in perpetuity by the U.S. government, at the company's expense.
Geologists have known about the deposit in Coles Hill, just outside Chatham, Va., for years. But with nationwide concern about nuclear-energy safety on the rise after the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania, the Virginia Legislature in 1982 imposed a moratorium on uranium mining and the ore has remained untouched.
The seeds of this year's battle were planted in 2006, when the Coles family set up Virginia Uranium and its Toronto Stock Exchange-listed parent company, Virginia Energy Resources
Inc., VUI.V 0.00%and began lobbying state officials to lift the moratorium.
In 2011, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell asked the legislature to set up a special working group to study the possibility. The group issued a report detailing how regulations would work, but made no recommendation about lifting the ban. Mr. McDonnell hasn't taken a position but has met with both sides recently.
The state General Assembly's Coal and Energy Commission, a committee of House delegates and senators, voted last week in favor of regulations for uranium mining. Mr. Watkins, commission vice chairman, said in an interview, "Technology and today's engineering provides us with the ability to adequately protect the public, the miners, the operation and the environment."
Mr. Watkins said lifting the ban would be "the first step in a long, five- to eight-year process" of opening the Coles Hill mine, with many state and federal permits and monitoring required.
Many elected officials in counties and municipalities across the state disagree that the safety risks are small and manageable. Ryan Stone for The Wall Street Journal Signs for and, here, against a proposed uranium mine dot the landscape in Chatham, Va. The state has banned uranium mining since 1982.
William Sessoms Jr., mayor of Virginia Beach, said the city council opposes lifting the ban. His city of almost 443,000, about 190 miles east of Chatham, as well as other communities, get their water from a lake that draws from rivers and creeks near the proposed mine, and he fears radioactive contamination.
"I don't want to take any risk whatsoever that would put our water supply in harm's way," Mr. Sessoms said.
Concerns over the mine's radioactive-wastepollution are "patently false and absurd," as uranium has been mined elsewhere safely for decades, said Robert Bodnar, an economic geologist at Virginia Tech who has studied the Coles Hill site, partly with Virginia Uranium funding.
Mr. Sessoms, a Republican, said both sides plan to lobby fiercely in Richmond. "They hired more lobbyists than you can imagine but we've got our crowd together, too, and we are ready to take them on," he said.
The controversial plan has divided Pittsylvania County, where the mine would be located, said Brenda Bowman, a Republican member of the county's board of supervisors. She and three other supervisors declined to call for keeping the ban, while three supervisors did. She said most of her constituents want the mine, because it would bring jobs, but many others fear it. Board meetings have been heated, with lots of hissing and booing, she said.
"Our community is very divided," she said. "It's all anyone talks about."

1/15 u-news a.m.

BY MARY BETH JACKSONmjackson@registerbee.com(434) 791-7981newsadvance.com
The full socioeconomic report from the Uranium Working Group is headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office Tuesday.His office is not aware when, or if, he will make a statement about his position on uranium mining. So far, McDonnell has stayed out of the fray.In a letter to Delegate Terry Kilgore, chair of the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, the governor said he had received an interim report on the socioeconomic study, and saw uncertainties. Kilgore shared the letter’s contents with the commission last week.
“I can say at this point that results seem to be mixed about whether or not this should go forward,” O’Donnell wrote.
He added: “I feel like I should wait for this final report before making a final decision on this issue.”
Virginia Uranium wants to mine a 119-million-pound uranium ore deposit in Pittsylvania County, approximately six miles from Chatham. The company has been lobbying the legislature to write regulations for uranium mining and milling, which would effectively lift a 1982 moratorium on the industry.
Senator John Watkins, R-Powhatan, said he will craft that legislation and expects to file it late this week. Delegate Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, is working on similar legislation in the House.
McDonnell formed the Uranium Working Group in January 2012 to research the potential benefits and pitfalls of allowing uranium mining and milling in Virginia. The group submitted its final report in December to governor, but it was missing the socioeconomic component.
Speaking in November, McDonnell said that when he forms his opinion, “I'm not going to base it on political issues or the financial issues.”
He added: “It’s not responsible to come up with a conclusion, as many have, before all the information’s in.”
He said he will be looking to create a high degree of certainty and of public safety through regulations.
Jackson reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

We don’t need a scientific study to find out the stigma attached to uranium mining
By Lavinia Edmunds
We don’t need a scientific study to tell us that living next to a uranium mine, or locating a business next to a uranium mine, or even the mere proposal of a uranium mine, can have a devastating stigma.
Many negative instances of contamination of air, water and land associated with uranium mines in the West have led to a stigma, this negative image that makes us want to avoid the mine altogether. At the Coles Hill site near Chatham, VA., which has many times more rainfall than those Western lands, there are heightened, legitimate concerns that the pits full of radioactive wastes, to be dug underground, could be the source of contamination for the water, air and land for centuries to come.
That's a built in stigma for those of us who value our land, water and air. Just ask some of the people who live next to the mine site. You can call real estate agents, members of the local chambers of commerce, and people with for sale signs in the communities neighboring the mine site. Or you can ask parents who are looking for a good private school for their children in picturesque Chatham, Va., located just six miles south of the proposed mine.
The uranium mine is having a negative impact on the local economy in Southside Virginia now. Ironicly, the socioeconomic study on “stigma” of this uranium project was supposed to be released with the other Uranium Working Study reports, was delayed and will come out, reportedly January 15. The reason, they said, was the difficulty in finding a totally objective pollster.Once he digests its report, Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will make a decision on the issue.
Virginia Uranium denies any stigma effect in its glossy newsletter. "The stigma effect is being completely ignored now,” in the legislature, where the matter of mining uranium will be decided this session, says Nancy Poole, president of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, representing local business owners who voted against supporting the mine after extensive study of its potential effects. “Speaking anecdotally, we fear where people can make choices they will think long and hard before locating near a uranium mine. The mine site is so close to the Banister River and with the amount of snow and rain we get, it will pollute the Banister River, and into the Staunton River, and into the drinking water. . .”
Just a few cases illustrate the point that the stigma is not in the distant future, ten years from now, when all the regulations necessary are set up: the stigma has arrived and reduced real estate sales, as it threatens to impact the Southside region’s greatest assets: clean air, abundant clean, pure water and soil.
Just a year after Carol and Bruce Hoffman built a house on 22 acres near Chatham, the couple read in the papers of the plans for the uranium mine to be developed at Coles Hill, one mile from their property. Within weeks, the couple put the property up for sale with reputable realtors, but not one offer has been made in the past five years, despite a reduction in price.
“The problem is the proposed mine! The realtors get many inquiries but as soon as it is known how close the property is to the proposed mine, there is zero interest,” says Carol Hoffman. “Chatham is now known outside the area as ‘that mining town’” despite the fact that even with approval from the state legislature, mining could not begin for another 8 to 10 years.
The couple has listed the property with United Country which specializes in rural property, the Lancaster Farming newspaper and the penny-pincher papers. They will consider an auction if the Virginia General Assembly decides to lift the 30-year ban on uranium mining in the state this term.
“Anyone living in close proximity to the proposed mine with ‘For Sale’ signs has had no luck,” she adds.
Most affected are property-owners whose property rings the mine site (maybe 80 properties) who are poor, often older, sometimes black, she says. “They have no voice even though they are opposed to the mine.” However, she acknowledges that about 10 families who live near the mine site stand to benefit financially should the mine be approved.
In other cases:
  • At Hargrave Military Academy, a private school based in Chatham with over 400 students, Headmaster Don Broome came out against the mine in November. As the parent of one cadet noted to local TV station WSET-TV, “It would be a very sad thing for them, and for us.”
  • Ralph Wiles, a retired professor of art history from University of North Carolina, renovated a farmhouse in northern Halifax County. Now as he’s grown older, he wants to move to a smaller place but he's having difficulties in finding a buyer. /li>
  • Reports of a number of real estate properties, from commercial to second homes, have sold far below market value,but the owners do not want to be identified out of fear that their deals could be jeopardized.
Halifax County has little to gain from the project; realtors are seeing the negative impact in the market currently, says Scotty Felton, a realtor who sells upscale properties in Halifax County. “The area has been trying to come back, since we’ve lost textiles and tobacco. The community has done a great job with the Prizery, a renovated tobacco barn turned into an art center, and with other industries…But this uranium mine offers nothing to our county. I see the stigma as being devastating.”
Some of the stigma is due to perception, admits Felton. When her clients ask about the no uranium mining signs that line the main streets and avenues, she explains that a uranium mine has been proposed for the neighboring county. Then she may never hear from the client again. This has offset the appeal of natural resources and low-cost housing that have in the past been major selling points for a growing number of retirees and second home owners.
Property has always been a good long-term investment, she notes, but recently her own daughter gave evidence of the stigma. When Felton suggested that she buy a prime 50 acres in Halifax County as an investment, her daughter quickly nixed the idea. “ She didn’t want to take the chance.”
As Del. James Edmunds, R-South Boston, (my cousin) pointed out at a press conference, the stigma is "real, genuine." Sen. Frank Ruff added that there is more negativity in pursuing economic development opportunities for his district—both subtle and not so subtle. The wife of a corporate official told her husband, who was slated to relocate to Pittsylvania County for business, that she was not ready to move from her home outside Richmond. She was waiting until the matter of the uranium mine was settled
Let's not hold the cloud of uranium mining over the Southside region for the next decade and make a definitive decision to continue the ban.
Speaking of clouds...there are reports of Dry Branch which runs through Coles Hill overflowing its banks...and,
A recent report on climate change can provide more evidence that mining here will be a disaster.
U.S. Avg. Temp Climbed 1.5 Degrees Since 1895, Draft Report Finds
2:16 PM EST, MONDAY JANUARY 14, 2013

Average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since records began in 1895, with 80 percent of that increase occurring since 1980, a new draft report from the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee finds. The report, released Friday, is a draft, as the NCADAC cautioned, and will be finalized in 2014. As the report also notes:
Certain types of extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense, including heat waves, floods, and droughts in some regions. The increased intensity of heat waves has been most prevalent in the western parts of the country, while the intensity of flooding events has been more prevalent over the eastern parts. Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense in the future.
There has been an increase in the overall strength of hurricanes and in the number of strong (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes in the North Atlantic since the early 1980s. The intensity of the strongest hurricanes is projected to continue to increase as the oceans continue to warm; ocean cycles will also affect the amount of warming at any given time...