New Uranium Study Fails to Paint Whole Picture
December 1, 2011
A new study on the impacts of uranium mining in Southside Virginia says there are potential benefits but "assumes that the site would be operated and dismantled within established federal guidelines and concludes that the potential impact on real estate values would be 'minimal.'"
Progressive Point: While opening Southside Virginia to uranium mining may potentially create some jobs, we can't make this decision without a complete understanding of how mining radioactive material could contaminate our water, environment, community, and economy. The prospect of rushing to remove the long standing ban on uranium mining without all the facts should frighten Virginians across the Commonwealth. Uranium mining could contaminate drinking water supplies as far away as Virginia Beach and agricultural products closer to the mining site.
Communities across Virginia have serious concerns about uranium's effects to the ecosystems they depend on, the water they drink, and how it will honestly affect their economy. We deserve to see the whole picture and we need all the facts.
Get the Facts: Initial reactions to the study are quick to question its methodology. The study's failure to include long term costs in order present the most favorable numbers possible is a specific concern.
- "Pervasive flooding" is a regular occurrence at the site where they could store uranium, which increase the risk of radioactive contamination according to a September study by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. (Washington Times)
- "[A] brief review," by the Piedmont Environmental Council, "raises several issues on methodology and assumptions and gives weight to a number of our long-standing concerns with lifting the ban on mining and milling in Virginia."
- Uranium mining and the storage of the toxic waste it produces could contaminate the city of Virginia Beach's water supply for up to two years after the pollution occurs. (Washington Times)
- The new study's net cost to taxpayers number for a worst-case scenario is between $6.6 billion to over $10 billion, even without long-term costs. Long-term costs must be included in order for us to get all the facts. (Gene Addesso, Roanoke River Basin Association's acting president, Washington Post)
- The study admits that the uranium mine owners could reduce production levels, or even stop it altogether if the price of uranium goes down. But the study does not report what the cost to taxpayers would be if that were to happen, nor how much increased environmental risk there would be due to the lack of radioactive waste oversight if they fired employees to save money. (Gene Addesso, Roanoke River Basin Association's acting president, Washington Post)