Monday, September 16, 2013

Whatever Happened to Virginia Uranium?

Uranium map

By Peter Galuszka
Posted on

A big effort to mine uranium in Southside Virginia seemed stymied when the General Assembly failed to end a moratorium on such activity in the last General Assembly.

It would seem that exploiting a large deposit of ore in Pittsylvania County by a wealthy local family and some obscure Canadian investors had fallen away.

Two developments underline the uncertainty of the venture, which has been wrought with political turmoil involving expenses-paid trips for legislators to Paris and allies of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell making late night phone calls to twist local arms for the project.

First, Virginia Uranium keeps giving donations. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the firm has given $53,500 to state politicians this year. It is part of a whopping $324,650 in donations the firm has given since it ramped up in 2008.

The other noteworthy item is a story in today’s Wall street Journal that paints a very bad picture for the future of nuclear power.

Uranium prices are at their lowest levels in eight years, trading at about $34 a pound Tuesday. For the Virginia project to work, they have to be well above $65 a pound.

What’s more, the Journal says, the market for the fuel hasn’t recovered since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which is still causing trouble.

Nukes out:  Germany is shutting its off by 2022 and even nuke-happy France plans on reducing its nuke load from 80 to 50 percent.

So, one might ask, why is Virginia Uranium still doling out dough?