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Danville prepares to take stand in favor of mining ban / January 02, 2013
Danville Register & Bee
Reprinted with permission

A resolution to keep Virginia’s uranium mining moratorium intact comes to a vote at the Danville City Council meeting Thursday.

The summary from City Manager Joe King notes while the Coles Hill site is in a different watershed and Danville’s water supply would not be threatened by mining activities, the city could still be negatively impacted by the operation.

Those negative impacts include the perceived stigma attached to such a mining operation, something King’s summary said “is only marginally addressed in the Coles Hill project studies.”

The resolution states though numerous studies have been done about the effects of uranium mining, “… none of these studies accurately assess the potentially negative effects uranium mining, milling and processing could have on this region’s efforts to recruit new businesses, employees, residents and students to this area, or provide assurances that businesses, institutions, people and property already present in the area will not be harmed …”

King also points out that problems can arise outside the actual site, particularly during transportation of yellowcake, the unrefined output of a uranium mine and mill. Should any accidents occur, the Danville Fire Department’s hazardous materials team would be the regional responder to the incidents. According to a study done by RTI International and financed by the Danville Regional Foundation, the team would require specialized training to handle those incidents.

The resolution before Danville City Council points out that the Governor’s Uranium Working Group has determined that Virginia will need even stricter regulations in play than currently exist on either a state or federal level, because it is geographically different from areas where uranium has been mined in the past, including its water table levels, and it has a higher population density.

It concludes by stating “ … new regulations cannot anticipate all possible hazards and outcomes if fallible human beings undertake uranium mining, milling and tailings storage …” and asks the General Assembly to not only keep the moratorium but to stop a current effort to begin writing regulation to control uranium mining.

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