Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Some Not-So-Cool Facts about Uranium Mining

• One ton of excavated bedrock produces an average of 1 pound of uranium yellowcake; the remaining 99.95% of excavated bedrock is left behind as tailings. These tailings contain eighty-five percent of its original radioactivity.
• Tailings give off at least 10,000 times more radon has than the undisturbed ore, while also containing other radioactive was...te such as thorium, radium, and many heavy metals and toxic materials.
• If rainwater were to percolate through these tailings, groundwater supplies could be contaminated for thousands of years.
• VUI claims it will produce 110,000,000 pounds of yellowcake at Coles Hill. At an average grade of .05%, that would produce 110,000,000 tons of tailings, which, if mounded 200’ tall and 400’ wide, would stretch 7.1 miles long.
• Mining worldwide has a history of fits and starts caused by supply and demand. Mining at Coles Hill is projected to be a 40-year project. The mining could intermittently stop for long periods on a moment’s notice.
• The Piedmont region of Virginia is blessed with an average of 43 inches of rainfall per year and every acre of land received 1.14 million gallons of water per year. There is no way to capture or control that volume of water.
• Virginia is threatened yearly by hurricanes, tornadoes and other catastrophic weather events, and in a 27-year period our state endured two PMP (probable maximum precipitation) rainfall events.
• There are no uranium mines east of the Mississippi River for a good reason—our abundant rainfall and violent storms make it impossible to mine safely.
• The Virginia Beach Uranium Mining Study indicates through advanced computer modeling that severe storms will wash and blow tailings from a Coles Hill Mine; those tailings will destroy the Banister River, which is a source of drinking water for Halifax County, and will render Kerr Lake’s waters, a source of drinking water for Virginia Beach, unusable.
• Our most fertile fields lie in our river low grounds and, should they become flooded and contaminated with tailings, they would be rendered useless for livestock and human use for perhaps thousands of years. There is no way to clean up or neutralize tailings spread out over large land areas.
• Inhalation of contaminated shower water can lead to lung cancer, and if swallowed can cause bone and other internal organ cancers.
• There is no new technology that makes uranium mining safer today than in the past except for lagoon liners. These liners have a maximum design life of 100 years, which pales in comparison to the half-life of uranium, 4.8 billion years.
• When mining is completed in 30 years, the investors walk away with the profit leaving the taxpayer responsible for cleanup and recovery. All old uranium mines end up as fenced-off superfund sites monitored and remediated at taxpayer expense—forever.
• The nuclear industry has a history of targeting poorly educated indigenous people for uranium mining with the promise of jobs. After years of abuse, many of these peoples have outlawed uranium mining on their lands.