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Yeah!! You saw the topic correctly, and this one even scares me.





Uranium mining: Can it be done safely?


Walter Coles, Sr.


Coles lives in Chatham and is the chairman of Virginia Uranium Inc.


The Orange County Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution to "support a continued moratorium" on uranium mining in Virginia. Its concern: Natural resources could be at risk, and "until it can be done without threat to our water supply and agricultural products," no mining should proceed.


We at Virginia Uranium agree completely.


But it invites an important question -- can uranium mining be done safely? We believe it can be and that it is an important ingredient in realizing the energy independence goals outlined in the Virginia Energy Plan. We also believe that an independent study authorized by the General Assembly is needed for unbiased answers that Virginians deserve to know.


Frankly, if uranium mining cannot be done safely, the issue is over and done with. No one at Virginia Uranium is interested in creating unsafe conditions for the air, water, land, agricultural products and, most important, people and animals in Virginia. If mining can't be done safely, the price to our community is too high, period.


But if it can be mined, millions of dollars in potential benefits will become available for regional roads, schools, recreation and public services. Mining pays back to its communities in very measurable ways:


n Hundreds of jobs with salaries two to three times the state average that can't be outsourced to China, India or Mexico.


n Special mining taxes for schools and roads totaling millions of dollars.


n New businesses, such as shopping and restaurants, that result from increased cash flow in the community.


n Conservation easements protecting land for agriculture purposes in perpetuity.


n Surety bonds to control the impact on the land and restore it to its approximate original contours when mining is complete.


n Substantial corporate tax revenue to fund additional projects.


If it can be done safely.


Examples given by Orange County Planning Commissioner Bill Speiden from his Western travels in the 1970s paint a pretty damning picture. In a race to keep up during the Cold War, uranium ore was mined with little regulation or concern for the environment. Industrial residue was dumped into open piles, into lakes, and, in some cases, used as roadbeds and construction fill and were left unattended when mining ceased. Communities are still paying the price for that negligence.


Today, mining technology and federal regulations governing mining are light-years beyond methods used 25 years ago. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 240,000 workers were employed in mining in 2006, with an injury rate lower than workers in the retail industry. Uranium mining is done safely in many areas because sophisticated monitoring systems, impenetrable synthetic fabrics, knowledge of tailings' chemistry and improved underground containment fields have made it safer than many of our local landfills -- and far more closely inspected.


The Coles Hill deposit in Pittsylvania County is estimated to be the largest known untapped uranium deposit in the United States. My family has lived on and farmed Coles Hill in Eastern Pittsylvania County since the 1780s. We believe that this company is best run by and for the benefit of Virginians. And we're in no hurry; after two centuries we're not about to make any rash decisions that will jeopardize this land or our community.


But this country faces an energy crisis. Perhaps nuclear energy will emerge as a clean, low-cost answer to these problems, since solar and wind alone cannot create the baseload we need. Our deposit is estimated to equal approximately 7.4 billion barrels of oil -- a giant step toward energy independence and security.


So where does that leave us? We need to give serious consideration for how uranium can be mined safely to benefit the citizens of Virginia and ultimately the nation. It's an issue we hope the Virginia General Assembly will tackle in the upcoming session, and in order to save the cost to taxpayers, we've offered to fund the study without strings to control the outcome in any way. We hope the legislature will select a prestigious educational institution or perhaps the National Academy of Science.


Please feel free to contact our company to learn more, and even more important, write your legislator to support further investigation. An unbiased, independent study could address the question of whether this deposit can be mined safely. Ultimately, it's the only question that matters.

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Yeah, my buddy Alan is a preacher in Danville, Virginia. He called me up this December and told me that the whole town is changing. There are new stores popping up everywhere. I think the town is getting prepared for all the miners and support workers. Alan thought that this may be the biggest deposit of uranium ever found.


The only thing he did not like was how the local government is keeping this hush, hush. There are alot of farms in this location. I wonder if the big guys are quietly buying up all the mining rights. We are standing on the brink of a perpetual energy crisis. The uranium boom will last for many years. It sure would be good for economy.

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