Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Hot Water" Makes Its Way to Halifax County/ Uranium tailings are a risk

 "Hot Water" Makes Its Way to Halifax County/ Uranium tailings are a risk

"Hot Water" Makes Its Way to Halifax County
Halifax Co., VA - Uranium mining opponents in Halifax County are bringing a new documentary to the area that may raise a few eyebrows.

Father and daughter duo Jack and Sarah Dunavant have been fighting against uranium mining for years.

After learning about the film Hot Water, they knew they wanted to bring the documentary to the people on the Southside.

"I hope it will give them some insight into what has happened. I mean, this actually happened. This is not some theory, " said Jack Dunavant, Chairman of anti-uranium group We The People, Inc.

The film spans nine different states and documents families and towns that claim to have been devastated by the effects of uranium: from cancer to polluted drinking water.

"To hear these families who know that this has come and robbed them of their future, and to think that someone wants to come here and do this to our community," said We The People, Inc. Secretary Sarah Dunavant,
Sarah Dunavant says that's exactly why she wants people to see the film and know what the possibilities are.
"We have a lot to lose and we're not going to lose, " she said.
The free screening of Hot Water is this Saturday at Halifax County High School. Doors open at 7 p.m..
They've invited all the area government officials to attend as well.


Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 6:15 am

The Editorial

To the editor:
  Chris Dunlap, with the pro-mining group People for Economic Prosperity, writes that Pittsylvania County deserves an honest discussion on the uranium mining controversy, "Time for facts in mining debate" (June 30, page A11).

The Southern Environmental Law Center agrees.

Unfortunately, fundamental errors in Dunlap’s column make that discussion far more difficult to have.

Dunlap wrongly claims, for example, that the National Academy of Sciences concluded that disposal structures for radioactive uranium waste, known as tailings, are "perfectly safe."

In fact, on the very first page of a chapter on "Potential Environmental Effects," the NAS reports: "Tailings disposal sites represent significant potential sources of contamination for thousands of years, and the long-term risks remain poorly defined.

Although significant improvements have been made in recent years to tailings management practices to isolate mine waste from the environment, limited data exist to confirm the long-term effectiveness of uranium tailings management facilities that have been designed and constructed according to modern best practices."

Contrary to Dunlap’s suggestion, the General Assembly decided to keep the ban on uranium mining precisely because this peer-reviewed analysis from the NAS shed so much light on the issue.

Legislators took to heart warnings from the NAS, such as this caution from a chapter on Potential Human Health Effects: "The decay products of uranium provide a constant source of radiation in uranium tailings for thousands of years, substantially outlasting the current U.S. regulations for oversight of processing facility tailings." These quotations aren’t part of some "scare tactic," as Dunlap would have it.

Rather, these are the reasoned observations from NAS scientists charged with reviewing the matter.

Thankfully, the full NAS report remains available for free download from the National Academies Press website,

It is a worthy read that validates many of the core concerns of the conservation community.

Editor’s note: The author is the director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.