Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Uranium Work Group comes to Hampton Roads

Over the past year there has been debate in Virginia about whether to lift a statewide ban on uranium mining to allow a uranium mine near Dansville, Virginia.  While physically far away, our community has a direct connection to the area.

The Indian River section of Chesapeake gets its drinking water through Norfolk's water system.  One of the key water reservoirs for Norfolk and Virginia Beach is Lake Gaston, located 125 miles to our west.   Lake Gaston is located downstream of the proposed uranium mine.   The mining activities would include the on-site storage in 'containment cells' of large amounts of mine tailings - the still radioactive waste rock and earth left after the extractable uranium ore has been removed.   The concern is that if catastrophic flooding, such as from a hurricane, breaches the containment cells  then radioactive waste would be washed into Lake Gaston and  threaten the region's water supply.  Many entities including the city councils of Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach have stated that the mining ban should be kept in place until conclusive evidence demonstrates that mining is safe for the environment and the health of residents.

The risk of pollution and the level of threat to the water supply are two of the issues being studied by the Uranium Working Group, established by the governor of Virginia, to provide a scientific policy analysis.   The Uranium Working Group is holding a Public Meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center next Tuesday, August 28th, at 6 PM.

Here are some links about the Uranium Working Group, the proposed mine, and the coalition seeking to 'Keep the Ban':
http://www.uwg.vi.virginia.gov/
http://www.virginiauranium.com/
http://keeptheban.org/

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