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When there is doubt, don't lift the ban page 2
Bill Speiden's op-ed column on uranium mining in Virginia: When in doubt, don't.

Date published: 1/18/2013


Virginia Uranium talks of shafting and tunneling mines up to 2,000 feet below ground, which must be pumped out to operate. What recourse do local well-owners have, where wells are normally 200 to 400 feet in depth, when they go dry?

The professional National Academy of Science report of 2011 raises many questions as to the safety of these mining activities in our climate. Catastrophic disasters have happened and the long-term consequences are felt frequently throughout the West where these activities took place in a semi-arid climate and low population density. Two UWG members recognized these threats. A set of rules and regulations on paper will not stop radioactive waste contamination in severe weather and, literally, earth-shaking events.

The proponents of "Keep the Ban" have been accused of being emotional on the issue. I agree. When my water supply, the air I breathe, the land I raise food on, and my health is threatened, I get emotional.

Bennie Shelly of the Navajo nation (with more than 60 percent unemployment), said this in 2007: "[U]ranium mining has devastated both the people and the land. Workers, their families, and our communities suffer increased instances of cancer that trace back to uranium exposure. Abandoned mines represent ongoing health and environmental hazard. While the Navajo people have suffered the effects of uranium mining, perhaps the greatest tragedy is the prospect that many companies are attempting to come back to Navajo Country to mine uranium once again."

I am not anti-nuclear. This issue revolves around the processing of uranium in Virginia, and the front end of the nuclear cycle is inappropriate in our state.

Check this website for information: CommonHeal thVA.org.

Allowing the mining and milling of uranium in Virginia amounts to tyranny of the financial over the interests of Virginia residents. Our legislature needs to do what is safe for the the commonwealth, and not ignore threats perpetrated by a single industry, so far by a single company.

When reasonable people raise reasonable questions and many of these questions go unanswered satisfactorily, serious doubts are logically raised. When in doubt--don't. The ban on uranium mining and milling in Virginia should become permanent until the industry can unequivocally demonstrate it can be done without threat to our residents in perpetuity.

Bill Speiden is legislative director of the Orange County Farm Bureau, past chairman of the Orange County Planning Commission, a farmer, a landowner, and a resident of Orange County.

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