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Group: Risks Outweigh Benefits of Uranium Mining

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Friday, August 19, 2011   

RICHMOND, Va. - The fickle market is up at the moment for yellow-cake uranium, and one Virginia company would like to take advantage by tapping into a massive uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. However, the proposition to suspend the state's 1982 moratorium on uranium mining comes with a lot of opposition from those who fear the economic and health impacts would be too great a price.

Trieste Lockwood, director of the Interfaith Power and Light environmental program at Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, says her group favors keeping the moratorium.

"Opening our Commonwealth's fields, valleys and water supplies to this kind of experimental mining in Virginia would benefit a few individuals, while risking the health, safety and prosperity of millions of Virginians. So, we're talking about our water supply, our health and our local economies."

Virginia Uranium says it can mine for uranium safely, but Lockwood says the potential health consequences of exposure to uranium are well documented, involving lung cancer, leukemia and birth defects. Two new studies about the effects of uranium mining are in the works, and the issue of lifting the moratorium could be debated in the 2012 General Assembly.

Virginia Uranium has promised about 325 new jobs if mining is allowed. While jobs are important to Virginia's south side as well as around the state, Lockwood says, it's important to look at the big picture.

"It would risk much bigger local economies like agriculture and tourism, which bring hundreds of millions of dollars each year, so we don't think that south-side Virginia should be turned into a Superfund site."

The Interfaith Power and Light Program will work closely with the Keep the Ban Coalition to ensure uranium mining stays out of the Commonwealth.


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