Thursday, July 25, 2013

Uranium mining in Virginia still a hot issue thanks in part to new documentary

Uranium mining in Virginia still a hot issue thanks in part to new documentary
While the first debate between Democratic Party and Republican Party gubernatorial candidates, Terry McAuliffe & Ken Cuccinelli respectively, have consumed the time and discursive energy of political talking heads and interested Virginians across the state, the issue of uranium mining in Southside Virginia has been largely ignored or forgotten about entirely.
For the residents of Southside, Virginia, however, uranium mining is still very much a hot topic. The recent screening of the documentary “Hot Water” in the Halifax County High School auditorium is only one of the most recent examples of the continuing interest Virginians in this part of the commonwealth have shown towards uranium mining.

Hot Water, produced by Liz Rogers, documents the American Southwest’s problems with uranium mining, including, but not exclusive to, the contamination of this part of the country with heavy metals and toxic substances. According to Rogers, “It’s [uranium mining] is dangerous and poisonous.”

The film could not come at a better time for Virginia as its citizens and elected representatives attempt to determine whether or not the 1982 moratorium on uranium mining should be lifted or maintained.

While critics may be quick to dismiss the documentary as an emotionally driven and unscientifically substantiated account of uranium mining’s effects on America’s landscape and its inhabitants, Rogers and her partner in production, Kevin Flint, talk to a number of socially respected figures including biologist Charmaine Whiteface; Dr. Kim Kearfott, nuclear engineer and professor of nuclear engineering at University of Michigan; Dr. Hannan LaGarry, professor of geology at Oglala Lakota College; Dr. Jim Stone, professor of civil engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines; as well as former congressman and leading environmental supporter Dennis Kucinich. 

Thus, the documentary takes a serious look at the effects uranium mining has had on ecosystems and communities in the American Southwest.

For Virginians who don’t live in the Southside of the state, you may be asking yourselves, why should I care what goes on in that part of Virginia?  That is, if uranium mining is allowed in Southside Virginia, what makes anyone think that it can’t or won’t happen in your part of the neighborhood?

Further, you don’t have to be Nostradamus to conclude that it’s only a matter of time before a uranium mining ‘incident’ occurs.

Where there is human interaction there is inevitably human error and in the case of uranium mining, potentially devastating consequences. The consequences won’t merely affect the Southside of Virginia, however, they will reverberate throughout the state as it attempts to grapple with the negative public image of a “nuclear state.”

Like it or not, uranium mining in Virginia is not a localized issue. It is an issue that each Virginian has a stake in.

Hot Water&Coles Hill Martin IMages News 2013: