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SoVaNow.com / December 27, 2012Dear Viewpoint:
In the article “Uranium: Buried treasure or hidden threat to N.C. water,” (Raleigh News & Observer, Dec. 26, 2012 edition), Patrick Wales, Virginia Uranium Project Director, was quoted as saying: “If North Carolinians are worried about tailings, they should be comforted to know that we’ve committed to put all tailings below ground.” What he fails to say is that prior to being buried, the tailings must be temporarily stored in holding ponds. During that time, heavy rains, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes could cause a devastating release of radioactive materials downstream throughout the entire middle and lower Roanoke River basin. Also, there is no scientific or technical evidence that burying tailings in the geological makeup of Virginia with high water tables can be done safely.
Uranium mining is a very risky triple threat. First is the danger of radon dust releases during the process, impacting air quality in all areas within 50 mile radius of the mine site, thereby impacting public health and safety. Secondly, the risk to all the natural environmental resources of the basin due to radioactive material contamination in the watershed, and finally, the obvious impact to the water supply of hundreds of thousands Roanoke River basin residents.
I would also like to point out that uranium mining and milling has never been done safely and without contamination anywhere in the United States. To think that it could be done safely in Southside Virginia with its population proximity to the mine and the natural geology of the southeast is no more than inane and extremely dangerous.
More reliable technical information on this very important issue can be found at readthereports.org and nccaum.org.
Vice President/acting President
Roanoke River Basin Association