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Uranium still on front burner in Town of Halifax
SoVaNow.com / June 13, 2013The issue of uranium mining in Virginia may be off the front pages of big-city newspapers around the state since a bill to lift the ban against uranium mining died in a Virginia State Senate committee back in the winter — but it’s still a hot topic at Halifax Town Council.
This week, two speakers addressed Council to insist that the matter isn’t dead by any stretch.
Andrew Lester, of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said Virginia Uranium Inc. will be pushing for Gov. Bob McDonnell to draw up regulations for uranium mining before he leaves office in January, thus circumventing the legislature. The next governor, who will be chosen in November, might also pursue that option, he said.
Virginia Uranium has outspent opponents 20:1, Lester estimated, adding that “This is a crucial year for them.” Virginia Uranium is now making presentations, sponsoring wine festivals and doing grassroots community outreach.
Of gubernatorial candidates, Lester and Council member Jack Dunavant said GOP contender Ken Cuccinelli brushed off a request to meet, but that Democrat contender Terry McAuliff was “unequivocal” in his opposition to uranium mining in a 45-minute meeting.
“It’s a big enough issue to change people’s vote,” said Council member Dennis Witt.
Uranium “supercedes all other issues,” said Lester. He praised the Town of Halifax for being out front in its opposition to uranium mining.
Lester said Roanoke River Basin Association is bringing uranium expert Paul Robinson to lead a workshop in Chatham on Monday at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.
Robinson is director of the Southwest Information and Research Center in New Mexico. The event is free.
Sarah Dunavant, daughter of Council member Jack Dunavant, said We the People, whose opposition to uranium dates to the 1980s, will screen the documentary “Hot Water” at the high school on Saturday, July 13. The filmmaker, Liz Rogers, of Los Angeles, and her crew will also attend, she said, and may shoot additional footage to include the issue of uranium in Southside Virginia.
Virginia Uranium Inc. proposes to mine a massive deposit beneath a Chatham farm if it can change Virginia law to permit it to do so.
The film premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., several months ago.
Dunavant said it would be a good educational tool about the dangers of uranium.
“I mean to tell you, it is powerful,” she said.
In other action, Town Council:
adopted its $1.4 million 2013-14 budget; a public hearing had already been held
authorized advertisement of and request for an order of special election to fill the seat of Tom Brown, in Ward A.
Brown last month announced his resignation, effective June 30, due to family health issues. Citizens interested in serving should send a short resume and letter of interest to Assistant Town Manager Denise Barksdale. Already, Janice Powell has expressed interest. Her resume says she graduated from Mary Bethune High School and spent 40 years in education; she has been a volunteer with the Halifax County Rescue Squad and is active in Christian outreach.
The person appointed to fill Brown’s seat will join Kristy Johnson, appointed to fill the vacancy left by Phil Hammond’s resignation, in having to run to retain their seats in a November special election.
Mayor Dick Moore was absent from the meeting.
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