Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Uranium mining moratorium in Virginia: Keep the Ban



Uranium mining moratorium in Virginia:  Keep the Ban!

Keep the Ban external link Coalition, The Virginia Coalition external link, and CommonHealth external link fight for a continued uranium mining moratorium in Virgina.

Virginia Uranium Inc. suspends campaign to lift uranium mining moratorium in Virginia: A company is suspending its campaign to mine one of the world's largest known deposits of the radioactive ore in Virginia, citing Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe's opposition. Virginia Uranium Inc. said it will not support the introduction of uranium mining legislation in the 2014 session of the General Assembly, which would be a first step to mine a 119-million-pound deposit of uranium in Pittsylvania County known as Coles Hill. (WJLA Dec. 14, 2013)  Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce votes for maintaining Virginia's uranium mining ban: 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. (Virginia Pilot Nov. 16, 2013)  Lobbying spending to end uranium moratorium highest in Virginia: 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. (Herald-Leader Aug. 29, 2013)  Legislation to lift Virginia uranium mining ban withdrawn by sponsor: The sponsor of legislation that would have allowed uranium mining in Virginia has withdrawn his bill amid almost certain defeat in a Senate committee. Sen. John Watkins withdrew the bill Thursday (Jan. 31) before the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources was to hear it. A companion bill remains in the House, but its prospects of moving forward appear slim. Watkins' legislation would have created the regulatory structure to oversee uranium mining in Virginia, which would effectively end a 31-year prohibition on the mining of the radioactive ore. (Virginia Pilot Jan. 31, 2013)  Opponents of proposal to lift Virginia's uranium mining ban lined the streets of Richmond: A few hundred people gathered in Capitol Square before the day's legislative session. They lined the walkway between the General Assembly Building and the State Capitol, encouraging lawmakers to keep the state's ban on uranium mining. Bills have been introduced in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate that could lead to lifting the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining. (WDBJ7 Jan. 28, 2013)  Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors asks General Assembly to keep Virginia's uranium moratorium: The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 Wednesday (Jan. 23) to adopt a resolution requesting the General Assembly keep Virginia's 30-year moratorium on uranium. Supervisors also asked state lawmakers not to approve any Senate or House bill on uranium mining and milling. (Star-Tribune, Jan. 23, 2013)  Opponents of Virginia uranium ban gave gifts, donations to state lawmakers: Interests lobbying the General Assembly to repeal a law banning uranium mining plied state legislators with nearly $140,000 in campaign contributions the past two years, according to data gleaned by a nonprofit and nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog. Legislators also accepted gifts from Virginia Uranium Inc. valued at nearly $139,000, according to reports for 2011 and 2012 compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project external link (VPAP). (Richmond Times-Dispatch Jan. 21, 2013)
> View VPAP's Top Donors list external link

Danville City Council unanimously votes for keeping Virginia's uranium mining ban: Danville City Council voted unanimously to show their support for keeping the ban in place in a meeting Thursday night (Jan. 3). Their resolution also states that they are against any currents efforts to begin writing regulation to control uranium mining. ( - ABC13 Jan. 3, 2013)

Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce passes statement encouraging uranium mining ban: The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce external link has passed a resolution encouraging Virginia to keep its ban on uranium mining. In a statement, the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce says there are still "too many questions and uncertainties that could have negative irreversible consequences on our region" if the ban is lifted. (WDBJ7 Dec. 12, 2012) Uranium Working Group delivers report on regulatory framework required, in case uranium mining moratorium in Virginia is lifted:

Southampton County supervisors vote for continued uranium mining ban in Virginia: Southampton County supervisors on Monday (Nov. 26) voted 5-1 to support continuing a ban on uranium mining in Virginia. (The Tidewater News Nov. 29, 2012)  Martinsville City Council backs Virginia uranium mining ban: Martinsville City Council on Tuesday (Nov. 27) officially voiced its support for keeping a ban on uranium mining in Virginia. In a unanimous vote, the council adopted a legislative agenda for 2013 that asks the General Assembly to maintain the moratorium because "engaging in uranium mining would result in highly damaging effects on all other economic development efforts in the region, excluding the jobs created by a mine itself." (Martinsville Bulletin Nov. 28, 2012)  Two statewide groups back uranium ban in Virginia: Two groups representing hundreds of Virginia cities, counties and towns are recommending that the General Assembly keep a 30-year ban on uranium mining in place. The Virginia Municipal League external link cites concerns about health and environmental issues related uranium mining, milling and disposal of radioactive-laced rock, while the Virginia Association of Counties external link wants the ban to stick "pending further study." The league represents all 39 cities, 157 towns and 10 counties, while the association represents the state's 95 counties. (AP Nov. 16, 2012)  Hampton Roads Planning District Commission backs uranium mining ban: The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission has taken a stand against ending a 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The resolution was approved by all but one voting member of the 16 cities and counties represented by the commission. The nonbinding resolution was passed last week.
The commission adopted a resolution that cites the threat to Lake Gaston, which provides one-third of the water to the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake. While the resolution states that the threat is "small," the consequences would be "enormous and unacceptable" for the region. (Richmond Times-Dispatch Sep. 25, 2012)  Suffolk council OKs resolution against uranium mining: The City Council added its voice to those of other Hampton Roads cities calling for the continuation of a 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia. By a unanimous vote, the council adopted a resolution Wednesday (Sep. 5) that opposes the mining and milling of uranium in Pittsylvania County, which it described as a potential threat to the region's water supply. (Virginia Pilot Sep. 6, 2012)  River commission wants Virginia uranium ban to stay: A commission composed of legislators from Virginia and North Carolina is urging Virginia to keep a 30-year ban on uranium mining in place. The resolution was approved Monday (Aug. 27) by the Roanoke River Basin Bi-State Commission, an advisory panel that makes recommendations to government officials on the use and stewardship of the Roanoke River Basin. (The Charlotte Observer Aug. 27, 2012)  Norfolk city council backs Virginia uranium mining moratorium: Norfolk: The City Council called unanimously on Tuesday (July 24) for a continuation of the state's moratorium on uranium mining to safeguard rivers and reservoirs that provide Norfolk's drinking water. (The Virginian-Pilot July 25, 2012)  Virginia Beach reaffirms opposition to uranium mining: The City Council on Tuesday night (June 12) reaffirmed its opposition to uranium mining in Virginia. The action comes after the completion of several studies on a proposal to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County. While noting economic benefits, the studies also raised safety questions. Virginia Beach officials worry a catastrophic storm hitting a uranium mine could result in the contamination of Lake Gaston, the city's water supply located downstream from the deposit. Officials are against the General Assembly lifting the existing moratorium on the mining. Tuesday's resolution amplified the stance against uranium mining the City Council took in 2008. (Virginia Pilot June 13, 2012)

The Virginia Coalition formed to keep the uranium moratorium in Virginia: A group of citizens from several different businesses and professions joined forces Tuesday (Dec. 27) to form The Virginia Coalition external link with the primary goal of keeping the uranium moratorium in Virginia from coming to a vote in the General Assembly.  The long awaited studies and reports on potential uranium mining in Virginia are complete, and they do not indicate that uranium mining can be done in Virginia without serious health risks.   According to Virginia Coalition spokesperson Andrew Lester "When our citizens and legislators read the reports, they will come away with the same conclusions as our coalition members.  Uranium mining poses a dangerous threat to the health, safety and welfare of our people." (The Gazette-Virginian Dec. 28, 2011)

Coalition launches petition for keeping the ban on uranium mining in Virginia: The Keep the Ban external link Coalition announced May 12 the launch of a statewide petition drive for citizens, civic groups, local governments, and others to show their support for keeping the ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The coalition has already gathered 1,000 signatures, and the support of 41 groups and localities that want the General Assembly to keep the ban. (Keep the Ban, May 12, 2011)  Organization forms to push to keep ban on uranium mining in Virginia: A group of Pittsylvania County residents has formed a grassroots organization to oppose lifting the ban on uranium mining and milling in the commonwealth. The citizens established Piedmont Residents in Defense of the Environment external link, a nonprofit, to be an environmental watchdog, monitor issues and hold government officials accountable for their actions, said PRIDE President Karen Maute. "PRIDE will actively promote keeping the ban on uranium mining in Virginia and seek to empower the communities to bring awareness of other issues that have negative impact on citizen health, the environment and the economy," the group stated in a news release. PRIDE so far has about a dozen members and is a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League external link based in Glendale Springs, N.C. (Danville Register & Bee Mar. 28, 2011)

Concern about possibility of ending uranium mining moratorium in Virginia: The renewed prospect of uranium mining in Virginia's Piedmont has been raised by a state energy plan being developed by the Kaine administration under a General Assembly mandate.
Uranium mining has been barred in Virginia by a 25-year-old moratorium. A proposal to mine a large uranium deposit near Chatham in Pittsylvania County in the early 1980s generated controversy and led to the moratorium. Opponents were concerned that radioactive milling waste, a result of processing, would pollute the environment.
The possibility of lifting that ban has alarmed folks at the Southern Environmental Law Center external link (SELC) in Charlottesville. (Richmond Times-Dispatch Aug. 31, 2007)

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