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Governor due to receive uranium panel’s report

SoVaNow.com / November 29, 2012
BY MARY BETH JACKSON

Danville Register & Bee
Reprinted with permission


RICHMOND — When the Uranium Working Group submits its final report Saturday to Gov. Bob McDonnell, it will be missing something: A socioeconomic report.

A socioeconomic report requested by the working group has been delayed and will not be included with the report being sent to the governor.

That drew the concern of one speaker at the Tuesday’s final public meeting of the group, which has been researching issues related with uranium mining and milling and compiling public sentiment to be presented Saturday to the governor.

Susan Furry of Salem was concerned that what she considers to be the most important issue connected with mining — its socioeconomic impact — will be an afterthought to the governor’s report.

“It is getting the least amount of time and energy,” Furry said.

Wright Environmental, which has been used by the group for previous studies, subcontracted with the Herndon-based firm ORI to complete the study, but the research got a late start. Instead of being included in the report to be received Saturday, it will be done Dec. 15 and the group’s report will be amended.

The socioeconomic study is supposed to shed light on the potential business impacts created by uranium mining and milling, and also gauge perception — whether uranium operations have a positive or negative influence in economic development opportunities.

That study will include a survey of Virginia’s business leaders, a survey of site location consultants and an economic impact analysis incorporating the results of those surveys. The report will also make recommendations based on those results.

ORI is calling between 600 and 1,000 businesses from Nov. 13-30; 20 percent of those polled will be in Southside, most heavily Pittsylvania County, with the remaining 80 percent from across the commonwealth.

The study costs $200,000 and is being paid out of a fund set up by the governor for research requested by the group. The group has spent more than $1 million on research, not including the staff time devoted by various state agencies.

The governor’s report will be presented in mid-December to the Uranium Subcommittee of the Coal and Energy Commission. The location has yet to be determined, said Cathie France, deputy director of energy policy at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

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