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Uranium Mining Opposition Reaches Critical Mass in VA

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January 21, 2008

Richmond, VA - Virginia is a potential hotbed of uranium mining, as companies push to lift the state's long-standing moratorium against it. Some residents say they're willing to listen, but only if there's a scientific study of the impact on Virginia's population and environment.

Northern Virginia farmer Bill Speiden, who has turned down offers for the mineral rights on his land, has some concerns. He says his land happens to be on the "most radioactive spot" in the state. While he's open to holding hearings on lifting the ban, he wants the state to take a close look at potential risks.

"The studies that the legislature has tend to be superficial and nonscientific, and they're open to decisions based on emotion, rather than scientific study."

Mining proponents are looking to produce up to 2 million tons of uranium yearly in Pittsylvania County. Speiden says uranium mining may be safe in the West, but Virginia presents different hazards.

"You can't regulate away some of the basic facts: our density of population and our rainfall levels."

Heaps of radioactive smelting debris just an hour from the nation's capital are a scene that environmentalists fear could come true, if lawmakers lift Virginia's uranium mining moratorium. That possibility will be discussed today at the Virginia Conservation Network's lobby day in Richmond.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA