Tuesday, June 18, 2013

PRESS RELEASE:  Report recommends to expand the current uranium mining moratorium to include uranium exploration

Comments from our friend KM:  Please check www.rrba.org tomorrow for the full report.
Robinson's report dispels any illusion that DMME can or will require that uranium exploration be conducted in a manner protective of human health and the environment.
It illustrates that VUI either has no knowledge of, or no intent to follow, "best practices".

The citizens surrounding the Coles Hill deposit have been treated carelessly and with utter disregard by DMME and VUI. The taxpayers have been short-changed.
Under current conditions other areas that may be targeted for uranium exploration and future mining will suffer the same injustices. The citizens of Virginia should not stand for this injustice. 
Pittsylvania County's elected officials now have more than evidence to support local and immediate action to protect the citizens of this county.  Inaction is not an option.

For Immediate Release:  June 17, 2013
Contact:         Paul Robinson, Research Director, Southwest Information and Research Center
Andrew Lester, Executive Director, Roanoke River Basin Association
Report recommends to expand the current uranium mining
moratorium to include uranium exploration
Chatham, VA -  Today, the Roanoke River Basin Association (RRBA) released a report by Paul Robinson, Research Director of the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, NM, that examined the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) records pertaining to uranium exploration conducted by Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) in 2007-2008.    The report finds that the company and the industry regulator, DMME, failed to follow best practices for uranium exploration and regulatory oversight, and recommends to expand the current uranium mining moratorium to include uranium exploration.
"For the past few months some folks have insisted that the uranium mining industry is a conscientious steward of our resources and that Virginia governmental agencies can write and enforce uranium regulations which will protect the public's health, safety, and welfare.   Roanoke River Basin Association decided to look at an example of both the industry and the regulators in regards to recent exploratory drilling at Coles Hill.  We brought in an international expert, Paul Robinson, to look at the facts, and the analysis indicates that both the mining industry and the state regulators fail miserably," said Andrew Lester, the association’s executive director.
Based on DMME records, the report finds that, following exploratory drilling conducted by VUI, uranium and radium concentrations in groundwater from the Coles Hill uranium sites rose to the levels exceeding maximum concentration limits listed in the DMME-issued permit.  In the only groundwater monitoring well drilled by VUI since exploratory work began in 2007, the registered uranium concentrations were more than 50 times the maximum concentration level set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and radium 226 concentrations were more than 28 times the EPA’s maximum concentration level.
The report also describes a range of requirements in the DDME permit that the company failed to comply with and the agency failed to enforce, including reporting daily water use from the area’s streams during exploration, depth to water for monitoring wells, and completion reports for exploratory wells drilled under the permit.
The report concludes that despite the mandate from the General Assembly to promulgate uranium exploration regulations, DMME failed to do so before issuing the permit to VUI.  Thereafter, DMME has renewed the permit every year since, including a renewal effective October 31, 2012 that extends the permit through the same date in 2013.  No public notice was provided before issuing the permit or before the renewal.  DMME failed to make public the records and documents pertaining to the issuance of the permit and follow-up inspections of the exploratory drilling sites, and keeps inspection logs and some water quality data confidential without providing the required reasoning.
“Virginia is currently vulnerable to impacts of poorly regulated uranium exploration.  The Uranium Working Group report submitted to Virginia’s governor in November 2012 recognized that the state’s uranium exploration program is out of date and identified the need to extend the existing uranium mining moratorium to include uranium exploration.  This report also recommends a moratorium on uranium exploration until the General Assembly adopts a strong and protective statute and the regulating agencies establish a comprehensive program under that statute, to ensure that uranium exploration is done in the most transparent manner in accordance with internationally recognized best practices,” said Paul Robinson.  

KBM: Unfortunately, the press was absent from the press conference.  I saw/recognized only one journalist at the workshop tonight.  Hopefully the press will access the report and respond responsibly after reviewing the information it contains.