Sunday, December 29, 2013

Keep the Ban News


2014 General Assembly Recommendation

The General Assembly should continue to heed the findings of the National Academy of Sciences and maintain the moratorium on uranium mining that has, for more than 30 years, protected the lives, livelihoods, and property of Virginians.

Hot Water

ODU Mace & Crown – November 21, 2013
[Full Article]
The Naro Expanded Cinema hosted a special viewing of the documentary “Hot Water”, a documentary on the consequences of uranium mining, on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The film was followed by a Q and A with the filmmaker, Lizabeth Rogers, Director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, Andrew Lester and Virginia Beach Utilities Director, Tom Leahy.
Hosted by The Sierra Club and the Keep the Ban Coalition, “Hot Water” made its Hampton Roads premier as part of a three stop Virginia tour which also included screenings in Richmond and Fairfax. The turnout was sizable and included a notable number of Old Dominion University students.
Many Virginians are unaware that the commonwealth has in place a moratorium on the mining of Uranium or that a 119 million pound deposit, worth as much as $2-7 billion, sits beneath the state’s soil along US 29 near Chatham.
Advocates for the ban are worried that this lack of knowledge will result in a deluge of misinformation about the dangers and negative consequences associated with the mining and milling process.
Rogers did not originally set out to make a movie about toxic contaminants and cancer-causing radiation. It was only after visiting Native American communities while making another documentary that she learned of these problems.

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Hampton Roads Chamber: No to Uranium Mining

Virginia Pilot – November 16, 2013
[Full Article]

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is no longer neutral in the uranium mining debate.
Leading members for the first time have formally voiced support for preserving a 31-year Virginia moratorium that’s been a key hindrance to mining for the radioactive rock.
By a 37-11 vote, chamber officials favored maintaining the ban following presentations from mining foes and those seeking clearance to access a Pittsylvania County parcel with a rich deposit of the ore used in nuclear power plants.
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Ending, for now, uranium debate

Virginia Pilot – November 15, 2013
[Full Article]

The effort to repeal Virginia’s ban on uranium mining was buried this week, and it’s likely to stay that way for the next four years.
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe said he would veto any bill that makes it to his desk to lift the state’s 32-year moratorium on uranium mining, citing risks to drinking water supplies near a cache of uranium ore underground in Pittsylvania County, The Pilot’s Bill Sizemore reported.
McAuliffe also rejected calls to develop a regulatory framework while keeping the moratorium in place, a strategy that some uranium advocates have been pushing for.
On both counts, McAuliffe has made the proper call.
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Uranium mining poses threat to Fairfax drinking water

GMU Fourth Estate – October 29, 2013
[Full Article]
Clean and safe drinking water is fundamental. And typically it’s a given—when was the last time you questioned the safety of your drinking water?
But sadly we are in the midst of a serious fight to protect our drinking water from significant health threats—both our surface waters’ like the Potomac and the Occoquan which are the source for our drinking water here in Fairfax, and groundwater sources that give water to rural communities not served by municipalities, like my family in Pittsylvania County.
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McAuliffe says he’d veto bill to allow uranium mining

Virginian-Pilot – November 12, 2013
[Full Article]
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe said Monday he would veto any legislation to facilitate uranium mining in Virginia.
The issue has resonance in Hampton Roads, which draws drinking water from Lake Gaston, downstream from a rich uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. Mining interests have been trying for years to get a 31-year-old moratorium lifted so the ore can be mined.
Speaking with reporters after a Veterans Day event at Nauticus, McAuliffe said he would veto any bill to lift the moratorium or to establish a regulatory framework for mining.
“I don’t support uranium mining,” he said. “First and foremost as governor, my job is to make sure that our communities and our citizenry are safe. I’m not comfortable with the science to the point that I can say that with uranium mining, we would be safe. I’m afraid it would get into the drinking water.”
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Film at the Naro casts critical eye on uranium mining

Virginian-Pilot – November 12, 2013
[Full Article]

Uranium mining, a hot issue facing the Virginia General Assembly, gets scathing treatment in “Hot Water,” a new documentary film making a three-city tour across the state this week.
The film will be screened Wednesday night at the Naro Expanded Cinema in Norfolk.
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Keep the Ban to honor Danville City Council – Nov. 5, 2013 [Full Article]
After efforts to overturn the state’s 30-year ban on uranium mining were thwarted earlier this year, citizens of Danville will recognize City Council with a certificate on behalf the Keep the Ban Coalition applauding the city’s steadfast support of the moratorium.
The presentation will be made at City Council’s meeting Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. in the municipal building on Patton Street.
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Chamber praised for anti-uranium efforts

Gazette-Virginian – October 28, 2013
[Full Article]
Executive Director of the Roanoke River Basin Association Andrew Lester and Secretary of We The People of Virginia Sarah Dunavant presented the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce with a certificate of appreciation Thursday afternoon during their monthly meeting. The presentation took place at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Innovation Center.
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‘Tremendous loss for Pittsylvania County’ – September 26, 2013 [Full Article]
“Mr. Ecker’s death is a tremendous loss for Pittsylvania County and our region,” Moran said in a statement. “Mr. Ecker served this county because of his love for the people and his desire to make our community a great place for us and for future generations. He always strived to do what he thought was right. Whether you agreed with Mr. Ecker or not, you knew that his deci-sions were based on what he believed to be in the best interest of this county. I had tremendous respect for him and valued his insights and friendship.”
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Va. Beach, Chesapeake hopefuls tout green credentials – October 2, 2013    [Full Article]
A forum Tuesday night revealed how House of Delegates hopefuls plan to address regional environmental issues if elected in November.
Six candidates – vying for seats in districts covering Virginia Beach and parts of Chesapeake – discussed offshore drilling, the health of the Chesapeake Bay and uranium mining in western Virginia at the event sponsored by the environmental advocacy organization Lynnhaven River Now and other civic groups.

Reports: Company that lobbied for uranium mining spent most on lobbying over past year

Associated Press – August 29, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. — A company that unsuccessfully pushed to end Virginia’s decades-old ban on uranium mining was by far the biggest spender on lobbying at the statehouse over the past year.New lobbyist disclosure reports show Virginia Uranium Inc. spent more than $572,000, almost twice as much as the nearly $300,000 spent by second-place Dominion. Altria was third at nearly $274,000, while the more than $251,000 spent by the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance reflected activity on the state’s first major highway funding overhaul since 1986. [Full Story]

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State group responds to report’s claims over uranium – August 14, 2013Mary Beth Jackson (434) 791-7981
[Full Article]
The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has reviewed the Robinson reports and says the agency and Virginia Uranium are in the clear.
The department’s public relations manager, Mike Abbott, says the law — and the agency — has succeeded in protecting citizens and the environment.
“We believe the requirements in place are doing the job,” he said.
The Roanoke River Basin Association released the final report of Paul Robinson, research director of the Southwest Research and Information Center, in July, which reiterated concerns of the preliminary report issued in June. The Southwest Research and Information Center works with community groups to provide technical assistance on environmental and resource development issues. One of its facets is a uranium assessment program.
Robinson reviewed Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy records for the report, prepared for the basin group. He says there is a lack of sufficient public and governmental oversight of uranium exploration in Virginia.
The report claims that Virginia is flying blind on uranium exploration, that the few requirements in place have not been enforced, and that VUI has failed to comply with what little is required.
Abbott said the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy never planned to issue a point-by-point rebuttal of Robinson’s claims, instead choosing to address key areas of concern Wednesday in person-to-person conversations with reporters.

Questions at the heart of the matter

Go Dan River Editorial Board – August 6, 2013
Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will respond to a report that was critical of the agency’s handling of exploratory drilling at Coles Hill in 2007.
That exploratory drilling was done to study the size and quality of the 119-million pound uranium ore body underneath Coles Hill, pastoral farmland about six miles northeast of Chatham. For most Dan River Region residents, news of that drilling was also the first indication that they had that another company was interested in mining uranium at Coles Hill.
Researcher Paul Robinson prepared the report for the Roanoke River Basin Association, and his findings raise serious questions about DDME and the work it did to protect the environment on this project.
“We believe that there is a great deal of info in the report that needs to be clarified, and in some cases, corrected,” DDME Public Relations Manager Mike Abbott said. “… We have been working on some information we plan to put out here shortly. Basically, what we’re trying to do here is put out some background info on the exploration project.”
Corrections, clarifications and background — all are welcome at this point, especially in response to one state agency’s work on such a high-stakes project.
This controversy goes to the heart of the uranium mining debate in Virginia — that the state government doesn’t currently possess the technical skill needed to manage such a high-risk mineral mining project like what Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to do in our community.
Uranium mining would be new to Virginia — and to the Dan River Region — and the public is rightfully concerned not just about this industry’s past record, but how little time the modern mining methods now being touted have actually been in place.
It’s a testament to the inherent risk of uranium mining that all of the region’s legislators and business leaders — along with most of the local governments from here to the coast — don’t support VUI’s project.
Into that political minefield the DDME promises a response.
We’re not concerned with hurt feelings and agency pride, we need to know two things from the DDME: Were its regulations followed by VUI, and more importantly, were its regulations adequate to protect the health of Virginians?
The first should be fairly easy to determine; the second is at the heart of the debate over uranium mining in Virginia.

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Hollywood producers come to Halifax to screen anti-uranium film ‘Hot Water’

The Gazette-Virginian – July 15, 2013[Full Story]
With a red carpet welcome, the anti-uranium documentary “Hot Water” was screened Saturday with hundreds filling the auditorium of the Halifax County High School.
Hollywood producers Liz Rogers and her production partner, Kevin Flint, shared their journey through the American Southwest and how it came to be contaminated with toxic substances and heavy metals due to the mining of uranium.
“This is poison,” said Rogers. Rogers said the mining of uranium is “terrifying” because “it’s something we cannot control.”
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Anti-uranium documentary to be screened Saturday

The Gazette Virginian – July 8, 2013
Hollywood is coming to Halifax this weekend when the public is invited to view a free screening of a new a one hour, 20 minute anti-uranium mining documentary Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Halifax County High School auditorium.