Suffolk Council joins Virginia Beach and Norfolk in opposing uranium mining
Suffolk council OKs resolution against uranium mining By Jeff Sheler The Virginian-Pilot September 6, 2012 SUFFOLK 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 that opposes the mining and milling of uranium in Pittsylvania County, which it described as a potential threat to the region’s water supply.
The action came in response to an effort by Virginia Uranium Inc. to
get state approval to mine an estimated 119-million-pound uranium ore
deposit at Coles Hill, about six miles northeast of Chatham. The site
is upstream from Lake Gaston, which provides one-third of the drinking
water supplied to Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Suffolk buys
water from Norfolk through the Western Tidewater Water Authority.
Mining opponents have warned that Virginia’s wet, storm-prone
environment is a risky place to process uranium and store its waste,
called tailings. Most uranium mining has been done in the arid West.
Opponents say a hurricane or torrential rain could send radioactive
tailings into streams and underground aquifers that feed into Lake
Gaston and could contaminate nearby farmland…… Gov. Bob McDonnell
has created a working group to determine what regulations would be
needed for uranium mining should the ban be lifted. Currently, there
are none. He asked lawmakers to postpone acting on the moratorium
until the study is completed.
The Suffolk council’s resolution said that while the discharge of
uranium tailings into the Roanoke River system is unlikely, “the
adverse consequences of such a release would be enormous and
unacceptable” for the region…… Councils in Virginia Beach and Norfolk adopted similar resolutions earlier this summer. Chesapeake’s council is set to take up the matter Tuesday.
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