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Coles Hill uranium decision depends on Virginia legislature

Virginia alone can’t approve the mine. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal agency, also would have to sign off on it. The agency would do an environmental impact statement that might take more than two years.

When asked, Larry Camper, the head of environmental protection for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said he wasn’t aware of his agency ever fully rejecting such an application. So the mine’s fate might rest entirely on whether Virginia lifts its moratorium on uranium mining.

Proposed Coles Hill uranium mine: Buried treasure or hidden threat? By Sean Cockerham and John Murawski | McClatchy Newspapers
CHATHAM, Va. 23 Dec 12
NORTH CAROLINA PROTESTS

Opposition in North Carolina has spread from towns near the potentially affected areas to the state capital. Eighteen towns, counties and economic groups have passed resolutions in opposition, including Henderson, Creedmoor and the Roanoke River Mayors Association.

A trio of North Carolina Republican state lawmakers sent Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell a letter of opposition Dec. 13. The lawmakers, representing the North Carolina Environmental Review Commission, warned that a spillage of radioactive waste would flow into Kerr Lake, a reservoir that spans both states. The Kerr Lake reservoir, owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, provides water for Henderson and Oxford as well as the counties of Warren, Vance, Franklin and Granville. It could be a future water source for Creedmoor, Raleigh and Durham, if those cities are granted access to the reservoir in the coming decades for their growing populations.

The North Carolina lawmakers also said contamination could go farther downstream to endanger “many communities in northeast North Carolina.” The toxic waste would behave much like mercury, working its way up the food chain through fish, eagles and other wildlife.

The bipartisan Environmental Review Commission is asking the full North Carolina Legislature to pass a resolution opposing uranium mining in Virginia. The draft resolution, which might be taken up as early as February, says that even if a radioactive release weren’t lethal, the resulting stigma and negative publicity would harm the state as a business and tourist destination.

“All it takes is a little flood and you’ve got problems,” said North Carolina Rep. Jim Crawford Jr., a Democrat who represents Granville and Vance counties. “If you have a hurricane in that part of Virginia, it would be Katy bar the door.”…..

Virginia alone can’t approve the mine. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a federal agency, also would have to sign off on it. The agency would do an environmental impact statement that might take more than two years.

When asked, Larry Camper, the head of environmental protection for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said he wasn’t aware of his agency ever fully rejecting such an application. So the mine’s fate might rest entirely on whether Virginia lifts its moratorium on uranium mining. The state’s politicians are sharply divided.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/12/23/178033/proposed-coles-hill-uranium-mine.html#storylink=cpy

December 24, 2012 - Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA

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