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National Academy of Sciences’ report indicates “keep uranium mining ban in Virginia”

Here are just three of the report’s key findings:

» “Extreme natural events (e.g., hurricanes, earthquakes, intense rainfall events, drought) have the potential to lead to the release of contaminants if facilities are not designed and constructed to withstand such an event, or fail to perform as designed.”

» “The decay products of uranium provide a constant source of radiation in uranium tailings for thousands of years, substantially outlasting the current U.S. regulations for oversight of processing facility tailings.”

» “Because almost all uranium mining and processing to date has taken place in parts of the United States that have a negative water balance (dry climates with low rainfall) federal agencies have limited experience applying laws and regulations in positive water balance (wet climates with medium to high rainfall) situations.”

All the credible science says, ‘Keep the ban’ Go Dan River, By: Robert G. Burnley | GoDanRiver June 17, 2012 I began my career as a water quality scientist in Virginia 40 years ago — six years before uranium deposits were discovered beneath farmland in Pittsylvania County. Since shortly after that discovery, Virginia law has banned uranium mining.

It is my firm belief, based on review of the highly anticipated National Academy of Sciences’ report released last December, that the ban needs to remain in place.

In 2008, after Virginia Uranium Inc. announced plans to develop the
only uranium mine, mill and waste disposal site in the eastern United
States, the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission contracted with the
esteemed National Academy of Sciences to conduct a rigorous, unbiased
analysis of the idea.

The NAS heard testimony from a wide range of stakeholders during its
review, including state agencies. Then, following release of its
report, the Academy conducted public outreach sessions around the
state to answer the questions and explain the report’s conclusions in
greater detail. Those sessions have just concluded.

Here are just three of the report’s key findings:

» “Extreme natural events (e.g., hurricanes, earthquakes, intense
rainfall events, drought) have the potential to lead to the release of
contaminants if facilities are not designed and constructed to
withstand such an event, or fail to perform as designed.”

» “The decay products of uranium provide a constant source of
radiation in uranium tailings for thousands of years, substantially
outlasting the current U.S. regulations for oversight of processing
facility tailings.”

» “Because almost all uranium mining and processing to date has taken
place in parts of the United States that have a negative water balance
(dry climates with low rainfall) federal agencies have limited
experience applying laws and regulations in positive water balance
(wet climates with medium to high rainfall) situations.”

This last point is critical. Federal regulations have been developed
with an eye toward the arid conditions of the Southwest. For example,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency generally requires “no
discharge of process wastewater” from uranium milling sites, but
allows for controlled, contaminated releases in the rare event of a
wet-weather year. Here in Virginia, of course, every year is a
wet-weather year, making the “no discharge” requirement meaningless.

We might look to Virginia regulations to close these federal
loopholes, but Virginia lacks the experience and expertise to oversee
such a technically complex and potentially dangerous new industry. To
be candid, I doubt whether state agencies would ever have the funding
and political support necessary to do the job as rigorously as this
threat demands.
Here’s why: Virginia consistently spends less than 1 percent of its
total annual budget on environmental protection. That includes
programs administered by the Department of Environmental Quality, the
Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Marine
Resources Commission and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
A fair conclusion to be drawn from this statistic is that the
environment has not been a high priority for the legislature…..
The National Academy of Sciences report represents the gold standard
here. That is why I am advising the governor’s internal uranium group
to heed the Academy’s stern warnings.
http://www2.godanriver.com/news/2012/jun/17/all-credible-science-says-keep-ban-ar-1991297/

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June 20, 2012 - Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA

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