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Virginia Uranium suing South Carolina over moratorium in uranium mining

Virginia company sues state over uranium, Yahoo 7 FinanceAAP – Fri, Aug 7, 2015 11:01 AM AEST A mining company that wants to tap one of the world’s largest uranium deposits is suing Virginia to end a decades-long state moratorium on mining the radioactive ore.

Virginia Uranium Inc, which puts a market value of $US6 billion ($A8.16 billion) on the deposit, filed the lawsuit in US District Court to have the 1982 ban lifted so it can begin mining the 119 million-pound (53.98 million kg) deposit near the North Carolina line.

The Chatham company argues that the state meddled in a matter that should be decided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Virginia officials, the lawsuit contends, came to the wrong conclusion when it said uranium posed unacceptable health and safety risks.

“But more importantly, it had no business asking that question to begin with,” the lawsuit said. “For the radiological safety concerns that are at the heart of Virginia’s ban are squarely within the field of exclusive federal regulatory concern.”

Virginia Uranium’s quest to mine the so-called Coles Hill deposit in Pittsylvania County was the most heated environmental issue in the state for years until December 2013, when incoming Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe made it clear he wanted the ban kept in place.

The company’s decision to abandon its efforts to lift the moratorium also followed an unsuccessful legislative bid to achieve that end.

A spokeswoman for McAuliffe said he would have no comment. The lawsuit also names state mining and environmental officials.

Virginia Uranium invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, lobbying and to fly delegations of Virginia lawmakers to France and Canada to tour uranium mining and processing facilities.

But it couldn’t overcome opponents who said mining and the storage of radioactive waste – called tailings – would threaten nearby rivers and streams that feed public water supplies.

Full-scale uranium mining has never been conducted on the US’ East Coast and opponents said Virginia would be a poor place to start. They cited the state’s wet climate and the fierce weather that often rakes the state. Most uranium mining is done in dry parts of the globe.

The mining would also include a milling operation to separate the radioactive ore from the rock.

Critics said that posed one of the biggest threats to the environment because of radioactive waste that would have to be stored for generations……..

August 29, 2015 - Posted by | Legal

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