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Uranium-mining forum sets stage for General Assembly's expected consideration of lifting a 29-year moratorium.
That's assuming the Virginia General Assembly takes up the matter in its upcoming session as expected, and decides to lift the moratorium imposed in 1982.
In addition, a regulatory framework and permit structure would first be required.
Some critics contend that should be done before the moratorium is lifted.
Chris Miller, president of the Piedmont Environmental Council in Warrenton, said that if Virginia Uranium gets the go-ahead, other areas could follow.
"Even if this isn't an inevitability, this a notice to the public to be careful. The nature of mining leases don't give landowners a whole lot of rights. So, are we worried? Yes."
Bodnar countered that finding new sources of uranium is a good thing.
"Everyone here is talking about finding new mineral deposits as something negative." Such deposits, he said, "would bring in billions in taxes and income."
Among the concerns about the Pittsylvania proposal are how mining waste will be stored, and how runoff could affect areas downstream, particularly drinking water.
A water task force in Virginia Beach last month, for example, urged the mayor and city council there to support continuing the moratorium until at least 2013 over concerns that mining could affect its Lake Gaston water supply.
In response to the Marline plan, the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the early 1980s passed a resolution recognizing "a threat to the county water supply and its agriculture products via the possible mining and milling of uranium."
In 2007 the county's supervisors, Planning Commission and Farm Bureau voted unanimously to ask lawmakers to continue the moratorium. The supervisors recently restated that position.
The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District enacted a similar resolution.
Virginia Uranium says mining can be done in an environmentally responsible way, and that the project would be an economic boon to the county and add to the nation's energy resources.
The National Academy of Sciences is studying whether uranium mining and processing can be done without harming the environment, farms, communities and other resources.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, uranium is a radioactive element that occurs naturally in low concentrations (a few parts per million) in soil, rock, and surface and groundwater. Virginia, though, has one of the richest deposits in the nation.
Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element, with an atomic number of 92. In its pure form, it is a silver-colored heavy metal that is nearly twice as dense as lead. Uranium dioxide is used to make fuel pellets used in nuclear power plants.