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Never safe / February 14, 2013
Dear Viewpoint:

In regard to uranium mining and milling at Coles Hill, Chatham: Water is essential to life. All life. To people, animals, plants and farm crops. If the Virginia Legislature does not vote to “Keep the ban” on uranium mining and milling, drinking water is at high risk of becoming toxic — in other words, undrinkable. This risk goes way beyond Pittsylvania County as water would carry toxins not only underground but also from creeks to rivers, to lakes and to the ocean. Southside Virginia and all of the Virginia coast counties would be negatively affected as well as counties in North Carolina. Whether by air (radon), by water or underground, the risk of polluted wells or wells gone dry is high. No matter how often uranium corporations claim uranium mining is safe, their words are factual untrue. Uranium mining is not safe — never has been and never will be safe. The risk of permanent damage to people, animals, plants and farm crops also includes the risk of damage to properties, property values, ability to sell properties near a mine site, businesses and tourism. Risk, therefore, far outweighs mining jobs that may be created so that a few can become wealthy. Besides, uranium mining requires highly skilled, experienced hunters - miners that will come from Canada and not Southside Virginia.

My family and I now have 5+ years’ worth of research, facts, stories, history and other information on uranium mining and milling. We have shared our findings with our neighbors who happen to be those who will benefit most from having the ban lifted by the Virginia Legislature. Walter Coles, Sr., CEO of Virginia Uranium, Inc. (VUI or Anthem or whatever new name has been given to the Coles Hill deposit) is our neighbor. We have met with Mr. Coles in person on at least eight occasions — to express our concerns and to find out how his neighbors would be affected by his “dream” of mining uranium. We have also written to him dozens of times with our concerns. While Mr. Coles has been cordial at our meetings, he has never answered our questions. His only remarks were, “It will be safe.” When we would ask, “How will it be safe?” he has no reply. When we tell him even with three reductions in listing price, we cannot sell our property because no one wants to live a mile away from the mine site, he refuses to consider his neighbors’ properties are at risk. In more than five years of being listed with reputable realtors, we have had not one looker at our property. Other property owners near the mine site also cannot sell their property. For five years, Mr. Coles has blamed the economy. Wrong. It’s the possibility of uranium mining that is making our properties unsellable!

Our other neighbors who would benefit financially should the Virginia Legislature lift the ban belong to the Bowen family. Our efforts to convince them in person and in writing that uranium mining would put thousands of people and properties at risk, we get no response.

It is all about the money folks. Those who would become wealthy should the ban be lifted will have the means to move far away from the mine site, leaving their present properties to eventually become toxic and uninhabitable while the regular folks suffer the toxic effects they cannot easily escape. My family understands that life isn’t always fair. But why should just a few be able to seek wealth at the expense of regular, every-day residents and property owners?

Please ask or beg your elected officials to vote to Keep the Ban. If the earth could speak, it would say, “At long last, thank you!”

Bruce Hoffman and Family

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